cover image The Lost Temple

The Lost Temple

Tom Harper, . . St. Martin's/Dunne, $24.95 (330pp) ISBN 978-0-312-38060-1

Fans of Harper's superb historical trilogy set during the Crusades (The Mosaic of Shadows , etc.) are likely to be disappointed by this middling thriller, yet another variation on the Indiana Jones theme. In 1947, the British, Americans and Russians are all looking for the legendary shield of Achilles because it may contain “Element 61,” a chemical element then missing from the periodic table that could be used in weapons. C.S. Grant, a British adventurer in need of a government pardon, agrees to help recover a murdered archeologist's notebook that may hold clues to the shield's whereabouts. A number of stock supporting characters, including an attractive female archeologist and an elderly scholar, accompany Grant to Crete in search of answers. While Harper offers some interesting discussions about the origins of Homer's poems, some readers may weary of such formulaic plot elements as a slow-motion romance, gunfights, hairbreadth escapes and the loss of a key clue. (Nov.)