by: Carolyn Arnold
Series: Matthew Connor Adventure Series
Release Date: November 27, 2015
Publisher: Hibbert & Stiles Publishing, Inc.
Finding the Inca’s lost City of Gold would be the discovery of a lifetime. But failing could mean her death…
Archaeologist Matthew Connor and his friends Cal and Robyn are finally home after a dangerous retrieval expedition in Cambodia. While they succeeded in obtaining the priceless Pandu artifact they sought, it almost cost them their lives. Still, Matthew is ready for the next adventure. Yet when new intel surfaces indicating the possible location of the legendary City of Gold, Matthew is hesitant to embark on the quest.
Not only is the evidence questionable but it means looking for the lost city of Paititi far away from where other explorers have concentrated their efforts. As appealing as making the discovery would be, it’s just too risky. But when Cal’s girlfriend, Sophie, is abducted by Matthew’s old nemesis who is dead-set on acquiring the Pandu statue, Matthew may be forced into action. Saving Sophie’s life means either breaking into the Royal Ontario Museum to steal the relic or offering up something no one in his or her right mind can refuse—the City of Gold.
Now Matthew and his two closest friends have to find a city and a treasure that have been lost for centuries. And they only have seven days to do it. As they race against the clock, they quickly discover that the streets they seek aren’t actually paved with gold, but with blood.
“Good evening, ladies and gentlemen. I want to thank you all for coming to celebrate this monumental find.” William paused to soak in the enviable applause. He definitely had a way of extorting the response he wanted.
After the clapping died down, he continued. “The Pandu statue is unquestionably one of the greatest discoveries of the twenty-first century. We are indebted to those who brought the Pandu here for us to appreciate.”
The statue was suddenly projected behind him on a large screen, the introduction to a slideshow presentation.
Matthew ran his hand along his jawline as he scanned the room. For the most part, everyone’s eyes were on William. All except for a few wandering and lustful gazes that traveled over him. A brunette, who appeared to have reached drinking age last week, sucked on her finger, the implication obvious.
Matthew returned his attention to the podium, even though it made him nauseated to listen to William speak about his discovery. If the man had any idea that it was because of his son—and his son’s two best friends—that this celebration was even possible, it might give him his third heart attack.
“If you have any questions about the Pandu, I am certain that the museum curator, Miss Robyn Garcia, would be happy to answer them. You can also ask my son, Matthew Connor”—he extended his hand toward Matthew—“who is an archaeologist.”
Despite the twist in his gut, Matthew lifted his glass in response, purely out of etiquette.
“Yes, well, without further pomp and circumstance, Miss Robyn Garcia.” William stepped to the side, clapping, and Robyn joined him on the podium.
It was the first time this evening that Matthew saw her. How he had missed her, even in a crowd, was remarkable. Matthew let out a deep breath at the sight of her.
She wore a black evening gown that complemented her tanned complexion. Her long, dark hair was straightened and slicked behind her shoulders and left to drape over her bare upper back. The dress was floor length with a slit on the left side that reached midthigh. Beads that sparkled like diamonds covered the bodice, and the fabric was attractively gathered where it cupped her breasts. She’d paired the gown with diamond earrings and bangles.
Robyn positioned herself behind the microphone and let her eyes trace over the crowd. If she was nervous about public speaking, it wasn’t evident. They met each other’s eyes, and her lips curved upward slightly. He was certain his mouth was gaping open and his expression resembled that of a goofy teenaged boy with a crush. It was a lot easier to see her as an equal when she was wearing khakis and boots, her shirt stained with sweat and her hair pulled back into a loose ponytail.
Robyn gestured to the screen behind her. “It truly is a remarkable gift we’ve been given. Thank you to William Connor for extending this celebration to his home.” She clapped, encouraging everyone to follow suit. Even Matthew found himself putting his hands together.
William dipped his head in silent acknowledgment and then waved, implying that it was no big deal.
And really, it wasn’t. Lauren and Daniel did all the hard work. Lauren’s primary charge was keeping the house tidy, and Daniel was the butler and property manager. At the end of the day, everything was their responsibility.
Speaking of Daniel, there was no sign of him. That was strange because he was the one who had led them to India in the first place. He was Matthew’s aid when it came to researching and picking expeditions. Maybe Daniel working for both father and son wasn’t the ideal situation, but it was what it was.
Robyn continued. “The Pandu is believed to date back to the third century. If you joined us at the museum earlier, this isn’t news to you, but the sacrifices that Gideon Barnes made to bring this to us are significant.”
“Is that why he’s not here tonight?” a man in the crowd called out. If Matthew remembered right, his name was Jacob.
No one was looking at him, yet Matthew felt under a microscope. Where was Lauren with more champagne? He always felt uncomfortable in these situations and was impressed by Robyn’s restraint in not letting her eyes drift back to him. She was a pro.
“Mr. Barnes regrets that he was unable to be here tonight, but he sends his love and appreciation.”
A man standing next to Matthew bumped his elbow. “The guy never shows up for his own contributions. If it weren’t for the artifacts and some pictures, I’d doubt his existence.”
“He might value his privacy,” Matthew said. And that statement wasn’t far from the truth. As for the pictures, Matthew had hired a man to be the face of Gideon Barnes, but it was to get his father’s backing, nothing more.
Robyn went on, providing more background on the Pandu. His mind wandered as she spoke. He was ready for the next mission. Time was too precious to sit around basking in past accomplishments. Life was about seizing the moment.
Matthew looked to the doorway and noticed Daniel standing off to the right. Daniel’s Norwegian gray eyes were locked on him.
“Excuse me,” Matthew whispered as he weaved through the mass of people to Daniel. Matthew handed his empty glass to the man.
Matthew directed Daniel to move down the hall and out of sight of their guests. “That’s not why I’m here, and you know it. You have something. What is it?”
Daniel considered their surroundings before responding. “One of the greatest legends, sir.”
Matthew’s heart palpitated, a natural and habitual occurrence when the prospect of a new adventure came calling.
What inspired you to write City of Gold?
A while back, I was searching for an action-adventure book to read, and I quickly noticed that most stories in the genre start off at a point long ago in history with people who never enter the story again after an initial prologue. But I wanted to read something more in the vein of Indiana Jones, that started in the present day, with action right from the start that just keeps going. Who doesn’t remember the boulder scene in Raiders of the Lost Ark when Indy is running for his life? Now, that’s what I’m going for!
You are primarily a mystery author. Why did you decide to write an action adventure?
I’m not sure whether I actually decided or was simply inspired. It is such a mysterious place, and people can’t seem to decide whether the city is fact or legend. The child in all of us wants to believe that a place like the City of Gold exists, but the grown-up in us tends to squash that curiosity. So when mine was piqued, I wanted to try my hand at going on an adventure along with my characters.
Many people have written about the Inca’s lost City of Gold. Why did you choose to write about it?
I chose to write about this particular legend because I find it absolutely fascinating! A city made of gold and treasure beyond imagining? How could I resist? I studied and researched to the point of obsession, and I even wished to be an explorer myself so I could set out in search of the city.
In fiction, the City of Gold is referred to by many names. The most common is El Dorado. But El Dorado actually referred to a ritual, not a place. Paititi is the true name for the lost City of Gold. Paititi translates to “city of the jaguar,” “all white and shiny,” and “white gold.” Many stories have emerged about the city and explorers have set out in search of it throughout South America, many losing their lives.
I examined the history of the city and explored the area on Google Earth. Plucking clues from different reference materials, I picked a spot where I think Paititi might actually be located. But who knows? What I do know is every story written about Paititi is unique and stands alone, and because Paititi hasn’t been discovered (yet?), there is a lot of room for play for a fiction writer.
What were some challenges you faced while writing the book?
As a mystery author who specializes in police procedurals, I found it hard to let myself go. With my regular genre, there are procedures that I need to follow. I need to know how real-life detectives and FBI agents would handle an investigation, how the forensics work, et cetera. So when it came to writing about what is, at this point, a fictional city, it was hard to open my creative mind. It almost felt like I had to literally discover the city in order to write about it. But with all the research and resources on Paititi—and some of it conflicting—I had to decide for myself what bits to incorporate into my story. I had to remind myself that I’m a storyteller, not a professor.
Tell us about the characters.
Twenty-nine-year-old Matthew Connor is the son of Toronto’s mayor, and while he’s educated in archeology, you won’t find him on excavations. His passion is hunting down treasure and legends the world has all but forgotten. While he feels the need to hide his true occupation from his father, this secret affects more than only him. Matthew’s two closest friends, Robyn and Cal, travel the globe with him and put their lives at risk to secure priceless artifacts.
What can readers expect from this book and this series?
This book and series is not your everyday action adventure. In fact, it’s been designed for the mystery lover. For example, in City of Gold, there is a kidnapping, a ransom, and a police investigation, as well as lots of action-packed adventure and exploration itself.
The series will follow that same kind of trajectory, with Matthew, Cal, and Robyn continuing to unearth treasures around the world. Think a modern-day Indiana Jones.
Does this book contain a special message for your readers?
Yes! I want people to believe again and realize that all things are possible. I want people to play more, explore his or her inner child, and live lives of passion and joy. When things are dark in our lives, what does it hurt to hope? Somewhere along the line of human history, it became foolish to believe in something without first seeing it with our own eyes. But what if we gave ourselves over to optimism and positivity? Maybe we’re afraid of being hurt or disappointed, but what harm does it really do to believe? I can speak from personal experience that keeping a positive attitude only added to my life and brought joy. While the end result to my situation didn’t bring happiness, it didn’t hurt any more because I held a positive attitude throughout the experience. In fact, I believe it even made miracles during that time possible.
So, if you’re looking for something to believe in, or if you just want to sit back and fall into an adventure, I encourage you to pick up a copy of City of Gold today.
Video on the painting for the cover: https://youtu.be/-JJIa9OStuM
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CAROLYN ARNOLD is the international best-selling and award-winning author of the Madison Knight, Brandon Fisher, and McKinley Mystery series. She is the only author with POLICE PROCEDURALS RESPECTED BY LAW ENFORCEMENT.™
Carolyn was born in a small town, but that doesn’t keep her from dreaming big. And on par with her large dreams is her overactive imagination that conjures up killers and cases to solve. She currently lives in a city near Toronto with her husband and two beagles, Max and Chelsea. She is also a member of Crime Writers of Canada.
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