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The Search for Missing Treasure - an Editorial Review of "Franco's Lost Gold"



Book Blurb:


In a clandestine commando raid during the Spanish civil war, over $5 billion in gold is stolen to assure Franco’s fascist victory, but the gold mysteriously vanishes without a trace.


More than 80 years later, ex-military Will McLaren leads a nomad life as dive instructor in Belize when he receives a call. It is the first trace to his unknown father, now supposedly on his deathbed. The search takes him to southern Spain, only to get caught up in conflict between law enforcement and local mafia intent on killing anyone who gets in their way. What unfolds is a web of family secrets leading back to the lost treasure.


To survive, Will must team up with newly found allies to bring down the most powerful and politically supported crime syndicate and at the same time finding the treasure; Franco's lost gold. Behind the mafia, shadowy figures lurk with totally different intentions…


This is the first book in a series taking Will McLaren around the globe on adventures, action and mystery.



Author Bio:



Although "Franco's Lost Gold" is his first published novel, Johan Rosenlind has written for a decade or two. After a degree in industrial marketing from Uppsala University, traveling the globe, and being generally busy in family life, business, karate/iaido, and diving; this is the first of several planned books in a series of action adventures involving Will McLaren.


Editorial Review:


Franco’s Lost Gold is a true adventure novel. It gleefully embraces nearly every adventure cliche but with delightful twists that make it perfectly original. It’s fast-paced and intricately plotted, with high stakes and smaller mysteries scattered throughout the main plot. At times, it seems to drone on slightly but always picks up the pace soon afterward. There are a few typos, but they never detract from the story. Only if you are looking with an editor’s eye will you see them, and even then each and every one is pardonable due to the magnificent storyline that kept me fully engrossed until the very last page.


There is a bit of languag; however, as is the case with the typos, these are equally pardonable, as this book isn't advertised to children. As for the writing style, it bears many similarities to Wayne Thomas Batson’s Isle of Swords, or to C.R. Hedgcock’s Summer of Suspense. One prevailing mystery is friends who are not what they seem, an intricate plot rooted in historical fact which is then grown into a riveting fictional story.


And the story begins way back in the 1930s with between 650 and 700 tonnes of gold. As the world draws closer to another war, the gold is destined to be given to Germany to ensure Franco the title of El Caudillo and a place next to Hitler and Stalin for the approaching conflict. Two special agents are chosen to transport a large sum of the gold to a submarine from Berlin, but on the way, the two reveal their true loyalties. Enrique stands with Spain, Germany, and Russia, truly believing what he’s doing is right. Ariel, however, cannot stand by anymore and watch innocent people suffer and die. And with the gold being delivered to Germany, the death toll will only grow. Only one course of action is available to Ariel. After exchanging brief words with Enrique, apologizing for what has to be done, Ariel kills Enrique and dumps his body in the river off the side of the boat.


The sea was calm, for which they were grateful. The barge was so low in the water that the slightest swell could sink her. They chugged along at a slow pace. A while later, as they passed the outermost breaker of Cartagena harbor, Enrique began to set a course to south-east and the coordinates to meet up with the Nazi submarine where they were to load the gold. Hitler had guaranteed Franco that it would be converted into money, available for Franco and the rebels to use to ensure quick success in the war. A cheap stroke of genius to ensure support in the coming, larger conflict. Enrique was steering straight out into the darkness with a deft hand, keeping track of the compassand the time, when suddenly he felt cold steel pressing against his neck. “You’ll never know how sorry I am about this,” he heard his friend Ariel say.”

From there, Ariel steers the barge into a cave he had known about since visiting it with his grandfather. “When the barge was firmly stuck, he jumped ashore. Unable to help himself, he tied a rope around his stomach, tightly secured to the bow of the barge. He plunged his head into the strangely cold and strong current. Twenty years earlier, he had seen a galleon on the bottom, torn by the current. Now he could see nothing at all, not a trace of either the old ship or it´s alluring but unreachable treasure. Everything was gone, swallowed up by the swirling currents. It didn’t matter, now there was plenty of room for the treasure he himself deliberately intended to leave here. Only the gold coin his grandfather had given him as a memento of their trip here in his childhood was left. The same coin he himself had mailed to his wife and little son together with his letter.”


And in an attempt to blow up the mouth of the cave, Ariel dies as the cave collapses, hiding the gold from prying eyes and evil hearts who would use it to end innocent lives. Then we pick up nearly 100 years later as the hunt for the lost gold becomes dangerous as drug cartels and descendants of Ariel and Enrique search for the treasure.


We are then introduced to Will. He’s the stereotypical action hero, but with subtle nuances to his character. He’s bold, brave, and willing to take risks that would make a knight in shining armor flee in terror. But he’s also a human being. He has doubts and fears and messes up multiple times. He’s not a perfect cookie-cutter action hero, and that’s a refreshing change from pop culture today. His girlfriend Jennifer is an ‘out of my way boys’ kind of woman, but not in an annoying way. She has real skills to back up her bravado but isn’t perfect by any standards. Throughout the book, most of the trouble springs from Will’s uncles who are feared and powerful drug smugglers.


As Will proves himself to be a worthy adversary, his uncle Hector even once pleads with Will to join forces with him. (He refuses, obviously.) At the end of the story, Will talks with his grandfather for a while, and asks why all the things that transpired did and why he had allowed his sons to become so corrupt. “Will,” he said. “It wasn’t their choice to follow in my footsteps or to expand that decided it, who am I to judge? It was, and is, a harsh reality to live in the criminal world. I finally lost my stomach for it and handed it over to my sons. They were ambitious and expanded but what they couldn’t see was that they were being helped by men with completely different goals. Political goals. Like taking over the country. It takes big money to do that, and they used the family for their purposes. It was profitable for both parties but there is more to life than money.”


All in all, the author, Johan Rosenlind, is to be commended for crafting such an elaborate and intriguing tale.


*****


“Franco's Lost Gold” by Johan Rosenlind receives five stars and the “Highly Recommended” award of excellence from The Historical Fiction Company


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