He believes artifacts belong in museums, but he’s got cash to throw around to buy them up. He consults for the FBI’s Historic Crimes division, a fictitious invention of the author’s that marries the agency’s high tech resources with the retro cold case appeal of archaeological MacGuffin hunts. Heck, instead of delivering university lectures, Kotler gives TED talks.
He’s the adventure serial hero updated for the 2010s—Robert Langdon with heavy emotional baggage and an FBI clearance. Although this is my first foray into the Dan Kotler series, I can tell that Tumlinson has built on an already strong foundation and delivered the best entry yet.
Where The Spanish Papers excels most is its cross-genre appeal. The novel is at once a historical mystery centered around the contents of the titular Spanish papers, a murder mystery centered around the death of the man who procured them, and an espionage-driven mystery complete with fancy cocktails.
All of these disparate elements shouldn’t work together, but they do, and a big reason is that this novel is just so damn fun. At one point, Kotler cracks a meta joke about the novel’s many layers of genre and homage: “Secret lairs, items of great power, men with no scruples. The Bond film writes itself.” He then takes a moment to reflect on the disappointing Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull before moving on.
This is the eighth book in the Dan Kotler series, but Tumlinson does an admirable job filling in Kotler’s backstory and summarizing past adventures so the reader is never lost. There’s a lot of ground to cover, as crucial relationships between Kotler and his friend and coworker Agent Roland Denzel as well as between Kotler and love interest Liz Ludlum have been established and fleshed out in previous books.
The Spanish Papers kicks off in the aftermath of Kotler and Ludlum’s first kiss, and the tension between the two would-be lovers, neither entirely sure if they’re in a position to pursue a relationship, adds weight to their professional interactions and keeps the reader invested in their safety while they’re on their respective missions.
Also important: the Knights of Jani, a shadowy organization with violent aspirations on a global scale. They’re Kotler’s SPECTRE, and having recurred in the previous books, they’re back again. During World War II, Hitler planned to use ancient, cryptic artifacts (also depicted in the Indiana Jones films) as a means of aiding the Nazis’ quest for world domination.
Could it be that some of these artifacts are now part of the wicked plot of the Jani? It’s up to Kotler to unearth this and other secrets buried in the hot Arizona desert. Fans of action, adventure, espionage and thrillers that generally don’t take themselves too seriously will love this one.
The Spanish Papers is now available for purchase.
About Kevin Tumlinson
Kevin Tumlinson is an award-winning and bestselling thriller author, with books available in hundreds of countries worldwide. With a long-standing career in film, television, radio and podcasting, Kevin is a seasoned world traveler and has produced documentary programming and films ranging from historic aviation to military history. His debut thriller novel, The Coelho Medallion, was a 2016 Shelf Notable Indie award winner.
Kevin’s popular show, the Wordslinger Podcast, is downloaded each week by thousands of listeners, eager to learn from guests that include New York Times, USA Today, and Wall Street Journal bestselling authors, Fortune 500 professionals and industry leaders and entrepreneurs of all types. He is known as the Voice of Indie Publishing—a title he’s proud to hold—and he has helped thousands of will-be and new authors build and grow their self-publishing careers.
Kevin’s love for history, archeology and science has been a tremendous source a material for his writing, feeding his fiction and giving him just the excuse he needs to read the next article, biography, or research paper. He lives in Texas, but works in random coffee shops, cafés, and hotel lobbies around the world.