This novel reimagines the motivation behind Columbus monumental voyage across the Atlantic in 1492. A Jewish converso in a time of renewed inquest against non-Christians, he sets sail hoping to find religious tolerance in East Asia. With him he carries the temple treasures, four sacred objects the Romans ransacked from Jerusalem in 70 CE.
Fast forward to modern day where religious fanatics seek to discover the hidden resting place of Columbus’ treasure in the jungles of Jamaica and a thrilling adventure of historic clues and shifting alliances unfold.
Here’s what Steve Berry does well. His plot is tight and compelling. The stakes are high and the character’s emotions and motivation believable. He thinks well of his reader, never brow-beating them with mundane historical details, but crafting as vivid portrait of modern day Prague as eighteenth-century Jamaica.
My only comment to the negative would be the flimsy construction of Alle Becket. The only female character in the novel to get more than a few hundred words, she comes across petulant and naïve to the point of caricature.
I enjoyed learning more about Jewish culture and Berry’s description of the Jamaican Maroons (a fascinating group borne of escaped slaves). The pages flew by, each of the novel’s many sub-threads building, winding, then dissolving into the larger tapestry of the story.
For those fans of thrilling adventures grounded in history, spiced with speculation, The Columbus Affair is one to remember.