Riddle of the Sands by Geoffrey Knight
The clock is ticking! Blackmailed by Jake’s nemesis ~ the vengeful Pierre Perron ~ Professor Fathom’s team of five horny gay adventurers is sent on a seemingly impossible mission to uncover the legendary Riddle of the Sands in order to save one of their own from a rare and deadly poison. But what is the Riddle of the Sands? Where are the long-lost clues and hidden maps that can lead to its whereabouts? Is it a myth, a mirage, or the greatest engineering feat in the history of ancient Egypt? From the icy plains of Siberia to the shadowy bathhouses of Cairo, from the scorching valley of the Nile to the heart of the Amazon jungle, readers join these hunks ~ treasure-hunter Jake, Brazilian biologist Eden, Texas cowboy Shane, art expert Luca, and quarterback Will ~ in a search that blends nonstop action and high-octane sex!
Unfortunately, this is a very misleading summary. Riddle of the Sands is actually a sequel, which is essential to knowing and understanding the characters and dynamics of this book, but nowhere is that actually stated. You MUST read the previous book to gain an understanding of the large cast and their purpose. I haven’t read the previous book unfortunately due to the misleading and erroneous book which doesn’t state anywhere this is actually a sequel and thus my enjoyment is proportionally less than perhaps others who might have read the first book. However, even so, for those looking for an empty but action filled story this might suit.
The book opens with a “professor” and Shane going to a Russian prison to talk to a prisoner about some mysterious key. While they are there, a dramatic and explosive prison break occurs and the heroes are running for their lives. From there, that thread is completely dropped because some guy named Jake has a friend who’s just been hit with a poison dart and to get the antidote, a bunch of men must come together and find a hidden pyramid that no one believes actually exists. Along the way are improbable and highly entertaining antics and some hot sex.
Sound ridiculous? It pretty much is but at the same time it still manages to be easy to read, fast, and engaging. The action starts from the beginning and simply doesn’t stop as more characters are introduced, shuffled around, and given more action. Globe trotting, this large cast is on the ultimate search for a hidden pyramid of an ignored gay son of an ancient priest but along the way there are the evil type henchmen, museum raiding, pits of snakes, mummified bodies, and rampant naked sex. The back of the book proclaims “HOT GAY TOMB RAIDERS” and certainly does its best to deliver on that premise. The plot takes the non-stop action of classic adventure movies and adds in a bunch of gorgeous gay men who have seemingly indiscriminate sex while chasing their answers.
While this is enjoyable, it is almost empty and forgettable. Part of the problem is that there is zero characterization. The book starts with action and that is the whole purpose. There is no characterization, no introduction to the various men, no explanation of who these men are, how they relate to each other and several plot points are simply dropped and ignored. Everyone is running around trying to save Sam, but the book never explains who exactly Sam is. Is he Jake’s lover? Adopted son? He seems to be a runaway Jake took in but there is no further explanation. Additionally, there is a rather large number of people in the book with no differentiation on who is more important than others and with no information about how they’re all working together, where they get the money to go globe trotting, if they have lives outside of this, if they have lovers, if they are lovers amongst themselves, and what each does. I’m guessing the story presumes the reader has all this information from the first book. So anyone just picking up this edition won’t get the benefit of knowing the characters and how they fit into a larger scheme.
For those that have read the first book or simply don’t especially care about characterization, the book provides non-stop action and entertainment, mixed with several naked scenes. The men are all gorgeous, gay, and hung like horses so they get naked quite a bit. They also run up against evil henchmen often as well as numerous obstacles from random people. This makes for an entertaining, lightning fast read that feels very movie like with the over the top antics and action. If you can suspend disbelief and just enjoy the ride, it’s a pretty fun and sexy book. There is a sense of repetitive prose and word choice that runs long in some places but the narrative jumps from person to person in a big cast so this keeps the pace moving quickly.
Without the background of knowing who these men are, the book definitely suffers and is ultimately forgettable. However, the entertainment factor is enough that I’ll likely read the first book so I can continue with the series. If the first book doesn’t offer any characterization, this is not a series I’d continue. It’s too chaotic and frantic without additional information. For those that have read the first book and are looking for a purely action filled thrill, definitely pick this up. Everyone else should start with the first book.
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