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The Spider Stone: Rogue Angel    by Alex Archer order for
Spider Stone
by Alex Archer
Order:  USA  Can
Gold Eagle, 2006 (2006)
* * *   Reviewed by Martina Bexte

In the 3rd installment of Alex Archer's eminently readable Rogue Angel series, archeologist/adventuress Annja Creed is off on another thrill-a-minute quest that starts in Atlanta and concludes on the African plains. As the story opens, a former colleague requests Annja's expertise in helping to identify charred human remains discovered in an abandoned Atlanta cotton mill. Cursory investigation reveals that the bodies were those of former slaves. Further study surrounding the circumstances of their deaths reveals they'd been murdered. One set of remains is identified as those of Yohance, medicine man of the ancient Hausa tribe, who had ruled a vast trading empire until their numbers were decimated by slavers. Yohance was keeper of his tribal heritage as well as protector of the Spider Stone.

Legend says that the trickster Spider God Anansi bestowed the stone upon the Hausa, and that to decipher its obscure writings is to learn the location of a great treasure. Annja and her fellow archeologists have barely begun scratching the surface of their find when they're attacked by followers of an African warlord who's determined to get his hands on the fabled stone. Homeland Security operatives help thwart the attack and reveal that their sole interest in the case is finding and capturing the brutal warlord Tafiri, who has terrorist interests. After repeated attacks, and suggestions from likeable agent Andrew McIntosh that Annja accompany his team to Africa and set herself up as bait for the warlord, Annja concedes. As their journey to search out the location of the treasure is about to begin, the immortal Garin also joins their team after sharing important information about the Spider Stone. Now Annja must race against time to decipher the true meaning of the artifact before it falls into the wrong hands and its purpose is unleashed.

In the current plethora of SF and paranormal influenced series heroines, Annja Creed is a one-of-a-kind protagonist. Her profession, her role as defender of Joan of Arc's mystical sword, as well as her link to the two immortals (Garin and Roux) whose own agendas remain very sketchy, prove nifty and distinctive plot devices. Great writing and pacing, a unique plot, exciting action sequences, nicely researched archeological history (in particular the horrors of the slave trade) and an interesting and diverse cast of secondary characters, make Rogue Angel: The Spider Stone another compelling, action-packed and thoroughly engaging read.

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