The Alb: a Novel
by Luis Rousset

"The bringer of light, in Latin, lux fer, corrupted to the present name Lucifer."

Alan Leary is a detective hired by a strange-looking man intent on finding his former boss, Mr. John Engelhard. Anton Deville is willing to pay Leary very handsomely to find Engelhard, now a suspect in the savage murder of six people in the Peruvian location of Colca Canyon, deep in the Andes mountains. An ancient Incan tomb filled with gold artifacts and an equally ancient white tunic called the Alb of Viracocha were found there. Tradition says the tunic protects the wearer from Supay, the Incan god of death. Leary, accompanied by his young and beautiful wife, Olivia, travels to Peru to begin his investigation. Landing in Lima, Leary and company travel first to Arequipa, then the Colca campsite where the murders took place, then Cusco, Porto Velho, and finally Manaus. This is the path the assassin takes in his flight from Peru into Brazil with the gold items and tunic.

Rousset has crafted a plot-heavy novel with a lot of suspense, keeping the pages turning. Who is Engelhard with his vast fortune, and why has he disappeared without a trace? There are a lot of characters introduced, some playing a much bigger role than others. Leary and his wife Olivia are the largest, followed by various South American police and detectives who give varying degrees of cooperation in tracking the murderer/smuggler's progress. Leary is willing to take matters into his own hands when the wheels of justice turn too slowly, and this is how he ultimately solves the case. Supernatural themes reminiscent of Stephen King are revealed. The novel has many interesting passages describing the cities and countryside of Peru, with some discussion of mining for base metals like copper and zinc. Overall, this is a fun read.

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