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The Barbary Pirates: An Ethan Gage Adventure    by William Dietrich order for
Barbary Pirates
by William Dietrich
Order:  USA  Can
Harper, 2010 (2010)
Hardcover, e-Book

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* * *   Reviewed by Hilary Williamson

Ethan Gage, 'investigator of the improbable', returns for his fourth riotous outing, The Barbary Pirates, in William Dietrich's entertaining series that has taken its womanizing, treasure-hunting hero to Napoleonic France, Egypt, Jerusalem, and North America in Napoleon's Pyramids, The Rosetta Key, and The Dakota Cipher.

This new saga begins in Paris, where Ethan hopes to persuade Napoleon to sell Louisiana to his own country. His mission starts badly. He tells us 'After I trapped three scientists in a fire I set in a brothel, enlisted them in the theft of a stampeding wagon, got them arrested by the French secret police, and then mired them in a mystic mission for Bonaparte, they began to question my judgment.'

That questioning continues throughout the adventure they subsequently share, their banter injecting humor into the fast-paced thrills. Of course Ethan had his reasons for the catastrophes (he always does). He was avoiding a trap set by his old nemesis, the Egyptian Rite, whose representative offered to take him to his lost love Astiza in Thira (called Santorini by the Venetians).

Napoleon also has a mission for Ethan on Thira - to seek secrets of Atlantis (in particular an ancient weapon that can focus the sun's heat to destroy an enemy) and make contact with a Greek political figure. So Ethan and his trio of savants - English rock hound William Smith, French zoologist Georges Cuvier, and American inventor Robert Fulton - set off. Trapped on Thira in an old church, they fall through a sarcophagus and wend their way through lava tubes to a buried city where (depite pursuit) Ethan finds the treasure key.

There are captures and escapes. Ethan encounters both an old enemy, the insane Aurora Somerset, and an old friend. Astiza is held hostage in Tripoli while Ethan and someone he values more than his own life are taken to Syracuse. Of course Ethan does track down the weapon, but then does his utmost (with the help of a prototype submarine) to destroy it and save Astiza. The Barbary Pirates is over the top but tremendous fun, and I hope we'll see more of Ethan and his growing entourage.

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