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The Golden Altar
by Michael J. Merry

Category: Fiction / Historical
266 pages; ISBN: 1891929755

Rating: 8/10  (Ratings explained)
Reviewer: Norman Goldman


If you are fascinated with the exploits of pirates, buccaneers or privateers, first time novelist, Michael J. Merry’s fictional novel, The Golden Altar, which is partially based on historical events, will immediately seduce you as soon as you completed reading the first chapter.
In 1671 an infamous English pirate, or as some called him a privateer, Henry Morgan, accomplished one of his most daring feats, when he attacked, looted and pillaged Panama. However, unfortunately for Morgan, he was foiled in his attempt to steal one of the most famous and unique artefacts of the city the “Altar de Oro,” the Golden Altar. This large baroque golden altar was housed in the Church of San Jose, and although Morgan stood a mere two feet away from this magnificent work of art, it was the clergy’s ingenious camouflaging of the altar that duped Morgan.

The story is fast-forwarded and in 1985 a descendant of Morgan, a Major Henry Morgan, a British army officer, after learning and obsessed about his ancestor’s escapades, meticulously plans the perfect crime, the theft of the Golden Altar from the Church of San Jose.
Morgan ventures to Panama and begins to fashion a strategy that will ultimately result in the successful burglary of this prized object.
The imaginative writing of the author induces the reader to cheer on the protagonist, notwithstanding that the crime about to be committed is shameless.

Complicating the plot, Merry introduces a second character, a woman, who is a journalist, by the name of Anne.
Up until half way in the story, Morgan constantly spurns female companionship for fear that it will lead him astray and defeat his primary objective. However, our hero succumbs to the beauty of Anne and agrees to accept her as an active participant, who incidentally proves to be of immense assistance.

Did Morgan succeed in stealing an entire altar crafted from pure gold? If he did succeed, how did dispose of the gold? Was Morgan a modern day pirate?
These are the many pieces of a giant jigsaw puzzle that the author cleverly assembles in order to formulate a blueprint of action.
In order to discover the answers to these queries, you will either have to read the book or travel to the Church of San Jose. I suggest, however, that you first read the book as a prelude to your trip.

This review first appeared at Bestreviews-


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