Aztec Gold by Caridad Pineiro
Being an Archaeologist by profession as well as by passion, I eagerly anticipated Ms Pineiro’s novel. However, it was so rife with errors besides being so short, that I really don’t know what I can say without being unnecessarily unkind. So just let me say this…the premise is good although she just doesn’t grasp the facts of the profession. And that’s a shame. Archaeology is such a fascinating field, and we are forever trying to overcome the stain placed on it by Indiana Jones! We are not treasure hunters (well, most of us aren’t) but seekers of truth. Archaeological techniques have come a long way since Howard Carter and King Tut. It’s so sad when an author doesn’t understand this. I have quite a few novelists who run story-lines past me concerning archaeological topics, and I invariably turn to the novels of David Gibbins (one of my favorite archaeological writers…and a very accomplished professional archaeologist) for an example of a great archaeological tale. He incorporates in his stories cutting edge techniques and to his readers they seem like fantasy because they seem so unbelievable. But our field has become just that in recent years, fantastic! We have so many new diagnostic tools and invite so many others scientists from other disciplines to participate that we are no longer hunched-over, dusty, sunburned “diggers” looking for that one big find to make us famous, but are instead well-schooled scientists carefully sifting through the dust of yesterday to find the truth of our beginnings. And that makes for a good story.
Ms Pineiro lost me right off when her heroine finds a trunk in a Missouri cornfield with a 500 year old manuscript in perfect condition. That’s not going to happen. Parchment and groundwater just don’t mix. Maybe if she had set the scene in a dry cave somewhere in the Big Bend area of Texas I could have given her some leeway. I don’t have a problem with the manuscript being from the Coronado expedition. but I do have a problem with its preservation. And the preservation of this manuscript is central to Ms Pineiro’s story. So…it just doesn’t work for me and I’m not willing to recommend a novel that ignores such basic truths. Sorry.
Also, this was a novella…103 pages? Oh come on. I can read that in just over an hour! Maybe if she rewrites it (after some more research) and includes it in a short-story collection I could find some value in it.
I hate to be harsh, but my customers are more discerning buyers/readers. I can’t recommend something like this to them. That’s my job, to suggest books that I think my customers will find satisfying, and this doesn’t fit the bill.