The Death Relic, by Chris Kuzneski

The Death Relic is the latest Payne and Jones thriller from Chris Kuzneski.  It’s an exciting page-turner with an interesting backdrop.

One of the things I like best about the Payne and Jones books I’ve read is the extensive research that goes into the setting and the story.  In this book, it’s the Maya and Aztecs as well as the Spanish conquer and rule of central and south america.  The characters are a lot of fun too, particular Payne and Jones as well as their historian and antiquities friend, Petr Ulster.  The non-stop banter between Payne and Jones is entertaining, if a little sophomoric.  The action sequences and battle scenes are exciting and well plotted.

While the background for the story is well-researched, the information is not always interjected smoothly into the story.  Kuzneski often conveys this information in lumps or lectures that don’t flow well with the story.  This was more noticeable early in the book than in the latter part.  Kuzneski also feels a need to explain simple concepts, like what a “benchwarmer” is in a sports setting that makes it seem like he’s talking down to you and had me rolling my eyes in a few places.  There were also a couple of scenes where Payne became angry for reasons that did not seem to make any sense and took me out of the story for a while.

The Death Relic is another entertaining chapter in the Payne and Jones series and a very quick read.  There are a couple of minor annoyances in the story, but if you can overlook those it’s a lot of fun.  Recommended read.  I was fortunate to receive an early review copy of this book.

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