ROBERT L. FISH – The Gold of Troy. Doubleday, hardcover, 1980. Berkley, paperback, 1984.

   Everyone loves a treasure hunt, and of course the bigger the prize the better. Except that what the prize consists of this time is a large chestful of cheap-looking trinkets, made of what looks like a poor grade of brass.

   It’s not long, however, before we learn that this is in actuality the famous Schliemann treasure, a priceless collection of golden relics of the Trojan War, discovered by archaeologists over a hundred years ago.

   The treasure was lost at the end of World War II in Nazi Germany, but it has suddenly reappeared. Someone has it, no one knows who, and it has been put up for bids in ·a mammoth worldwide auction. The CIA has always thought the Russians have had it. The KGB has been convinced that it was the Americans who stole it away during the confusion at the end of the war. Each is now sure that the other’s security has been breached.

   A love affair is also involved, between two people ordinarily worlds apart. She is the newly appointed head of the Metropolitan Museum of Art; he is Russia’s leading authority on matters archaeological. Together as they hunt down this small treasure of buttons and beads, their love is consummated, nearly lost, and then wrapped up neatly again in a wild whirlwind of a finish.

   The machinations of the plot obviously come from the head of the author alone. The characters have little to say in how they’re manipulated. As great lasting literature, this would never do. As to why the book is so readable, why it is gulped down so easily and quickly, there is an equally easy explanation. To put it in simplest possible terms, Fish knows how to tell a story.

Rating: B plus.

–Very slightly revised from The MYSTERY FANcier, Vol. 5, No. 1, January-February 1981.