Hard Case: Plunder of the Sun by David Dodge, 1949 and 2005, 978-0857683212.
Third of the four Hard Case Crime novels I picked up over the winter. Part of series by Dodge featuring Al Colby as a trouble shooter in South America. At least I think it is part of a series. I didn't look too hard. Call Hard Case and ask Ardai.
Colby is sitting on a park bench in Argentina waiting to meet someone. Colby received a cold call promising a job. A man in wheelchair is wheeled up by a personal nurse. Wheelchair Man offers to pay Colby to take a ship north to Peru and smuggle a small box ashore. Colby does not want jail time for smuggling so he is reluctant to take the work. Wheelchair Man convinces him and he, Colby, and Personal Nurse board a steamer as passengers. Colby and Wheelchair pretend to not know one another as Colby carries around the slim, small box. There is concern that Colby's cabin will be searched. We meet some passengers including a nasty Peruvian.. We meet Personal Nurse. Colby is coldcocked and Wheelchair ends up dead and his cabin ransacked.
Colby gets the box ashore but what should he do with it? Wheelchair is dead and seems to have no living relatives to inherit the box. Nurse wants the box. Nasty Peruvian wants the box. Another passenger, Big Dude, wants the box. Colby opens the box and finds a ancient Quechua from the Maya along with a written manuscript. The Mayan Quipu is twisted rope used by messengers as a form of shorthand. The accompanying manuscript can only be translated by a handful of people. The two items together lead to a hidden Mayan treasure that was collected to ransom a Mayan king from the Spaniards.
Things happen. Colby ties to do the right thing but is surrounded by people with shifting allegiances and hidden desires. He and Big Dude team up to dig up the treasure. Colby wants to recover the gold for the recovery fee from the Peruvian government. Big Dude wants riches. Colby is double-crossed and left for dead.
Colby recovers his health and recovers the treasure and forces a resolution for several of the personal conflicts. A novel with nice setting and a plot and characters that move along.
1. This seems like a Bill Cider special: Mayans, mysterious women, lone hero in South American, hidden treasure and a film version starring Glenn Ford.
2. It took a while to finish this one. I brought it along on Boy #1's Backpack Camporee a couple weeks ago. The camporee was in a Dane County park and more a shakedown experience. Scouts bring along a couple nights worth of gear and have several training sessions. One of the sessions was by minimalist backpacker who travels with just a rain fly and a lightweight sleeping bag. No spare clothes. A blade from a safety razor instead of a pocket knife. A small alcohol stove made from a cat food can. A water filter straw and no pans.
Minimalist Camper inspired me to not sleep in a tent. The second night of camping I folded one ground cloth in half and put my pad and sleeping bag inside. The cloth was kinda small so I used a smaller ground cloth to layer over my head in case of rain. I burrowed into the bag and used my flashlight to read this novel.
When asked what he does when getting cold in his sleeping bag, Minimalist Camper said "Just do some crunches in your bag, you'll warm up." Minimalist Camper had 50 pounds worth of beer belly, andI think he had trouble seeing his feet so there was no telling how he did any crunches. But, and let's be clear here, he is the one out there doing the hiking and traveling.
EDIT: I forgot to mention that if anyone wants my copy they can let me know. The paperback is a little beat up, but not too bad.