The Aztec Code by Stephen Cole

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The Aztec Code by Stephen Cole

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Category: Confident Readers
Rating: 3.5/5
Reviewer: Jill Murphy
Reviewed by Jill Murphy
Summary: Another high octane crime thriller starring Jonah Wish and his Coldhardt associates. A great page turner, perhaps even more enjoyable than the first one.
Buy? Maybe Borrow? Yes
Pages: 320 Date: March 2007
Publisher: Bloomsbury Publishing PLC
ISBN: 978-0747584278

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Sent to steal a sword that once belonged to Spanish conquistador Hernan Cortes, Nathaniel Coldhardt's gang of highly talented teenaged thieves find they've been beaten to it. Unused to failure, they return with plenty of questions to ask the enigmatic head of their adopted family. But before they can gather their wits and find out what is really going on, the worst happens. Tye, Coldhardt's transport specialist and the glue that holds his family together, is abducted. Coldhardt seems remarkably unperturbed.

The ensuing adventure takes our young criminal masterminds from Guatemala to Mexico. As they gradually unravel exactly why the Cortes sword is in such high demand, they pit themselves against the Sixth Sun, a shadowy sect filled with powerful and influential people who seek to resurrect an ancient Aztec temple and unleash a goddess bent on hellish revenge and destruction.

I actually enjoyed The Aztec Code more than I enjoyed the first book about Jonah Wish and the rest of the Coldhardt gang, Thieves Like Us. The tale is just as much fun - it's a far-fetched action thriller featuring adolescent criminal masterminds, technological wizardry, mysterious sects and ruthless shady operators. It's all very Indiana Jones and it hurtles along at a real rate of knots, building suspense and throwing a few red herrings along the way.

However, now we've got the picture, we also get some flesh on the bones. The characters are beginning to round out a little more and the tensions between them are becoming more obvious. Motti feels the family will only survive if they retain a degree of distance from each other. The superficially attractive Con reveals a considerably colder, more ruthless nature than the reader had previously suspected. Tye finds her loyalties divided. Nathaniel Coldhardt shows unsuspected weakness. And Jonah, well, for him it's still a question of the search to belong, but as his confidence grows, so does his capacity to make a decision and follow it through.

It should probably come with a don't try this at home warning attached, but the early to mid teens will definitely enjoy this high octane adventure and there's enough in the way of character development to sustain a series.

My thanks to Bloomsbury for sending the book.

High-octane thrills for slightly younger readers include the Jimmy Coates series by Joe Craig.

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