Thursday, February 09, 2006

The Nautical Chart by Arturo Perez-Reverte

A review of Arturo Perez-Reverte's The Nautical Chart

There's nothing like treasure to get the blood up. The promise of sudden, miraculous wealth stirs a feverish lust in its seekers. In fictions as diverse as Treasure Island and Treasure of the Sierra Madre, a common fable emerges, one of grasping ambition meeting well-deserved comeuppance. The Nautical Chart, the latest historical thriller by Spanish novelist Arturo Perez-Reverte, fits neatly into this tradition. It's the story of the search for a mysterious cargo of emeralds shipped from Havana to Spain in 1767 on the brigantine Dei Gloria, a ship in the service of the then-powerful Jesuit order. The purpose of the trip is not known, and the quest to discover that purpose forms part - but not nearly all - of the mystery at hand.

At the outset, the known facts are these: The Dei Gloria was ambushed by a pirate corsair called the Chergui. In the ensuing battle both ships, their cargoes and their crews were lost except for the cabin boy, whose subsequent testimony revealed the Dei Gloria's last known position. This single clue unites a diverse cast of characters in pursuit of the treasure. Manuel Coy is sailor without a ship, a first mate without a captain. A freighter touched bottom on his watch, shearing the hull. It wasn't his fault exactly, but it earned him a two-year suspension on dry land. He's going a bit batty, with only his beloved jazz music and favorite brand of gin to keep him company.

You can find the full review here

Buy The Nautical Chart at
Buy La Carta Esferica / The Nautical Chart (Spanish edition) at

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