I’d seen the Rogue Angel series around for about a year or two but until the other day, I’d never read one. A couple of months ago, the author of this one sent me a review copy. It was on the list to review before the end of the year, but when I ended up flying to Houston for a couple of days earlier this week, I decided to move it up. This required me to rearrange the order in which a few books would be reviewed, but I was okay with that. This way I could ignore shrill flight attendants who demand that “anything with an ‘off’ switch must be turned off, not put in airplane mode, turned off” and simply read. If I’d had only my ereader, we’d gotten stuck on the tarmac, and I wouldn’t have had anything to read at all.
But I digress.
Except for one thing, which I’ll discuss below, I enjoyed the book.
The set up for the series is fairly simple. It concerns one Annja Creed, who’s part Indiana Jones, part Lara Croft, part Kolchak the Night Stalker, and part Duncan MacCleod (of the Clan MacCleod). She’s an archaeologist who is cohost of a tabloid TV show called Chasing History’s Monsters.
She also has the sword of Joan of Arc. This is a magical sword which she can literally pull out of thin air whenever she needs it. I want one of these! (That’s not a hint for those of you wondering what to get me for Christmas, but if you’re so inclined…. I’m just sayin’.)
In this particular story, Annja gets caught up in a hunt for a Chinese lantern (that looks nothing like the one shown on the cover) which is believed to be the key to a great treasure, cursed, or both. There are two (count ’em, two) crime lords willing to kill to possess the lantern.
The lantern was brought to France from Shanghai in the early 1790s a stage magician. During a show in the catacombs below Paris, the magician was using the lantern to project an image of the afterlife on the wall when a Chinese man walked out of the image and fatally stabbed the magician. This led to the lantern gaining a reputation for being haunted or cursed.
Before it’s over, Annja and her friends and companions will travel the globe searching for clues, be involved in a number of shootouts, take part in a car chase involving rocket launchers on a major Paris highway, and fight for their lives in the Paris catacombs.
There was some character development that I considered fairly deep for this type of series book. I found Annja an engaging character, even if she has an aversion to lopping off people’s heads with her sword. Now where’s the fun in that, I ask.
The book was fast-paced fun, and I loved almost every minute of it. The only time I was thrown out of the story were a couple of bits involving a photograph of the magician taken while he worked as a banker in Shanghai. This photo was taken about 1790. The problem was that photography wasn’t invented for well over a quarter century later.
Overall, I enjoyed this one enough that I would read others in the series. In fact, I picked up another volume when I was in Houston while at the hafway point in this book.
Alex Archer is, of course, a house name. From what I’ve been able to determine, there are at least four different authors who write these books. (The one I picked up was by the same author.) I know the identity of the author of Magic Lantern. While I don’t think it’s any great secret, I’ve not been given explicit permission to reveal it, so I won’t. If I get permission from the author, I’ll post that information in the comments. I do want to thank the gentleman for sending me the review copy.
As I said, I enjoyed this one. It was good pulpy fun, and I’m looking forward to reading more in this series.