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The Map Thief    by Heather Terrell order for
Map Thief
by Heather Terrell
Order:  USA  Can
Ballantine, 2008 (2008)
Hardcover, e-Book

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* * *   Reviewed by Mary Ann Smyth

The Map Thief by Heather Terrell (author of Chrysalis) is another winner. Don't miss it. Using Chinese history, Terrell has woven a story around a little known (at least in the Occidental world) voyage of a great fleet of huge vessels - making European ships 'look like bath toys' - and with vast numbers of crew to man the ships.

Is it possible that the Chinese discovered the Americas decades before European explorers did? According to historical documents and maps, this appears to be so. Interesting, is it not? I recently finished a non-fiction book that addresses this very subject. Terrell has taken the facts as historians see them and created a novel of suspense and intrigue, spanning three different time periods.

A map drawn on the initial voyage spins its way from its maker Ma Zhi - working under the direction of Admiral Zheng He in 1421 - to Portuguese navigator Antonio Coehlo sailing with Vasco de Gama in 1496, to its present day discovery at an archeological dig. Collectors would kill for this invaluable artifact. Governments want it suppressed as it would tell the world that the Chinese had indeed discovered the New World and not the later navigators from European countries. A terrible loss of face. It is up to Mara Coyne, working for her kingmaker client Richard Tobias, to find and restore this treasure to its rightful owner. But who is the rightful owner?

This second of the Mara Coyne series keeps the reader guessing the bad guys' identities, and the action accelerates as she travels from country to country seeking clues about the map thief. This absorbing read is one of the better ones of the summer. Don't miss it. I also look forward to the series third, The Book of Kildare, Ireland being one of my favorite spots on this earth.

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