Page 45 Review by Stephen
Time to raid some tombs!
"The inscription seemed to have been composed in an early Arabic script. That is a simplified explanation, of course; an expert in such matters would be able to draw more fine-grained distinctions. But the characters looked vaguely familiar, and the linguistic construction wasn't completely mysterious."
Ah, dear Selim! It is our former Turkish lieutenant who will be doing the deciphering here, along with the narration; it is he who will discern the most vital buried treasure in the form of an astrolabe of sorts, determine its use on unearthing further components, and sniff out the real rat long before Delilah's woken up to its considerable, charm-masked dangers.
But before all that, there's a ship off Anatolia's south Turkish coast, at stormy sea and seeking sanctuary in Adalia's harbour. Unfortunately, that harbour is defended by a fortress owned by a local, self-regarding tyrant called Küçuk, and it's about to get very Assassin's Creed indeed!
"If the Isobel came too close, the fire from the fortress would turn her into a cloud of wooden splinters - such was the nature of Küçuk's trade management policies and the strength of his cannons."
Welcome to the third Young Adult DELILAH DIRK adventure, whose linguistic strengths are every bit as impressive as the art, whose nocturnal and sunlit landscapes are nothing short of spectacular and whose athletics and balletics are exhausting to behold!
It's historical action adventure set in the early 1800s, and if you recall my previous reviews I was deeply impressed with the American author's research, for he understood that there was no single British stately home style during the period concerned, and reflected this in his variety: he drew a cosy country pile built from locally sourced stone at night, a more grandiose, garden-centric, Restoration-era mansion during the day and, for the ball, one very aptly with a Palladian facade. Perhaps he watches a lot of BBC Jane Austen adaptations. Either way, top marks.
Here we're on Mediterranean ground, sweeping all the way from coastal Turkey to the east, thence to Algiers in North Africa further west, before trekking inroad to do that Lara Croft thing once again, and finally resurfacing, knee-scraped and ever so dusty, slightly north.
The Pillars of Hercules, you see, do geographically exist (sort of). They're reputed to have been the on either side of the Strait of Gibraltar, that gateway or "naval lynchpin" of enormous strategic military and commercial value. It is after following the trail there that our crew of Delilah, Selim and a Dutch journalist called Laurens Van Hassel will discover the most spectacular architectural enterprise ever attempted on their third and final descent underground, but if you believe that there is no such thing as bad publicity, this may well give you much pause for thought.
I don't want to give too much away - and this certainly isn't necessary for enjoying the heck out of this best adventure yet - but if you've enjoyed DELILAH DIRK's previous escapades...
Nah, I think I'll leave it there. Do keep a careful eye out, though!
The past may be a foreign place, but it does hold one heck of a passport.
Cliff surprises on so many levels, not least in that Küçuk isn't the only one here displaying a degree of unseemly self-regard, and I like that our Delilah proves far from perfect, so needs her travelling companion more than ever, not only to pick out the physical astrolabe, but be her moral compass too.