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on June 29, 2011
Yes, Tyler Locke, the protagonist of The Ark, is back, as are his sidekick Grant Westfield, the General, and several other characters from Boyd Morrison's debut novel. One notable exception is Dilara Kenner, who is not featured in this latest adventure. Obviously, this is the second book in a continuing series. In general, I'm a big proponent of reading series books in order, but in this case I don't think it matters if you've read the first. The events of The Ark are barely referenced, even in passing, so you won't be missing a thing.

Like so many action heroes, trouble seems to find Tyler Locke. This time it takes the form of an insistently ringing telephone. Tyler is minding his own business on a ferry commute when an unknown caller tells him he has 28 minutes to defuse a bomb on the boat. Having no other option, Tyler investigates. He is indeed led to a bomb, a blonde, and a puzzle. What he doesn't know is that this set-up is only the first test. The mystery caller is Jordan Orr, a career criminal with an insane-sounding quest. The blonde is Stacy Benedict, another innocent bystander, like Tyler, with a unique skill set. And Orr has acquired exactly the leverage to make both Tyler and Stacy do his bidding. For what he wants is nothing less than the Midas Touch.

Let's stop right there. Yes, THAT Midas Touch, where everything you touch turns to gold. As I read this fairly early on in the novel, I was skeptical. Actually, I don't think skeptical covers it; I was bordering on contemptuous. It was the most ridiculous premise I could imagine for a quest thriller. But I am a big Morrison fan, so I suspended my disbelief and continued reading. (Incidentally, one of the things I like best about Tyler Locke is that he articulates all the things I'm thinking--but more knowledgeably. He doesn't just say that alchemy is a fantasy; he explains why nuclear fission isn't a practical means to turn lead into gold.)

Ultimately, I was rewarded for giving the author the latitude to ply his craft. He never let me down on the entertainment--though there were some scenes that felt a bit contrived to me. And while I'm not going to claim that this is the most plausible plot, Morrison pulls it off. He makes it believable ENOUGH (and I'm not a pushover when it comes to that). There was a science-based plot twist at one point that made me literally stand up and cheer out loud. It was so awesome!

As far as character development goes, I'd say it's about status quo with the first book. Don't pick this book up if you are looking for an intimate character portrait. Pick it up if you want a rockin' car chase on the Autobahn. Pick it up if you enjoy a good heist. Pick it up if you're curious how science can explain the legend of Midas. And pick The Vault up if you're looking for a book that's really hard to put down!
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TOP 500 REVIEWERon June 29, 2011
Like James Bond movies, some thrillers ask the reader to accept the unbelievable for the sake of enjoying a fun story. The reader's willingness to suspend disbelief is a function of the payoff -- that is, the more farfetched the plot, the more enjoyable it must be if the author doesn't want to lose the reader entirely. Boyd Morrison stretches the limits of plausibility nearly to their breaking point in The Vault, but the result is just as entertaining as the early Bond movies. A part of the novel, in fact, is almost a homage to Goldfinger.

Jordan Orr steals an ancient manuscript from a vault. Eighteen months later, Carol Benedict and recently retired General Sherman Locke are abducted, while Carol's sister Stacy and Sherman's son Tyler are on a ferry with a bomb that's twenty minutes away from exploding. All of this is orchestrated by Orr, who needs Stacy's expertise in ancient Greece and Tyler's engineering skill to help him solve the puzzle of the Archimedes codex and find the Midas Touch -- that is, the power to transmute objects into gold. To further complicate the plot (or maybe just to add a need for speed), Orr is in a race with a beautiful and deadly woman named Gia (a/k/a "The Fox") to recover the Midas Touch from its hiding place in Naples, and thus gives Stacy and Tyler only four days to do the job. Throw in an Italian crime family and a weapon of mass destruction and you've got yourself a thriller.

If you think all of this adds up to a wildly improbable premise, I agree with you. If you can overcome your skepticism, however, The Vault tells a surprisingly entertaining story. With the help of Tyler's co-worker and war buddy Grant, Tyler and Stacy begin a quest that takes them to the Fox's London lair, to a car chase on Germany's autobahn, to a museum heist and a shootout at the Parthenon in Athens, and to a series of violent confrontations in Naples. I was worried that the novel was heading toward a predictable finish, but there's nothing predictable about this story. A little silly, maybe, but I give Morrison credit for putting together a fun, exciting tale.

The Vault moves like the Ferrari that Tyler races on the autobahn. Morrison provides a wealth of interesting information about Archimedes without slowing the plot. He clearly did his research, not only into ancient history but into architecture, steganography, engineering, explosives, extremeophiles, and how to steal strontium-90. He even came up with an explanation for the Midas Touch. I'm no scientist and therefore can't evaluate the explanation but I'm nonetheless -- shall we say -- dubious. Still, the story works so well as an action-thriller that I was willing to set aside my doubts. More troubling is a complicated bit of subterfuge in which Tyler engages toward the novel's end, supposedly without being seen by the adversaries who were guarding him. That the adversaries would be so remarkably unobservant was inconsistent with their behavior until that point and just a little too convenient for our intrepid hero.

Morrison's writing style is unburdened by clichés. His characters aren't deep -- the male characters are standard ex-military Ranger types who are adept at flying planes, racing cars, and defusing bombs, while the lead female is plucky and smart -- but this book is all about plot; the characters exist only to move the story along. This isn't the kind of writing that wins literary awards (just as James Bond movies don't win Oscars), but it is the kind of high energy writing that entertains thriller fans. It worked for me.
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on August 15, 2011
The problem with books like these, where the authors do considerable research to insure that the action is rooted in reality, is that more often than not some fact or premise is simply fantasy. Sometimes this is because the author simply didn't do his homework, and sometimes it's because the author can't come up with a solution that's grounded in reality.

Here we have a least a couple of important premises that simply make no sense. One I can't tell you about because it occurs late in the book and I don't want to ruin it for you. However, let's just say it's a biological impossibility that was a big letdown for me. I felt as though the author couldn't come up with anything better and so just made up something off the top of his head.

The second I can talk about, because it's right up front. We're told that the primary bad guy is mad at the world (and Wall Street in particular) because his father, a Wall Street investment banker, committed suicide after being fired for whistleblowing on an embezzlement scheme inside his employer. The author says he was blackballed by all other Wall Street firms, and his impending permanent unemployment and resulting poverty lead him to kill both himself and the bad guy's mother. Huh?

First, in the real world, if he had in fact been fired for whistleblowing he would have had a slam-dunk lawsuit for wrongful termination, and since his former employer would be supposedly rich, the punitive damages would have beeen enormous. I'm an attorney specializing in employment law, so I know what I'm talking about.

Second, no prospective employer, especially a Wall Street firm, would be loathe to hire someone because they came forward with facts about an embezzlement attempt. All employers have a keen desire to prohibit embezzlement, whether directed against the employer itself or the employer's clients.

Third, even if he had been blackballed by all other Wall Street firms why didn't the father just look for a job somewhere else? Yes, he might have had to relocate, but that's hardly a reason for suicide.

Other things aren't necessarily implausible, but don't make a lot of sense. For example, when the hero (Tyler Locke) suffers a broken rib, he refuses an x-ray. Why? He also refuses to take painkillers, on the ground that it might "dull his senses". This is common among the macho heroes in this genre, but I can never figure it out. I have a chronic painful disease which causes me to take "painkillers" (a misnomer). It's true that taking too much could cloud one's judgment, but pain itself is a distraction. If you wanted your senses to be at their best you'd want a certain amount of pain medication to downplay the interference that pain causes.

But apparently this is just not macho enough for Mr. Boyd and other authors like him. I suspect they haven't had much physical pain in there own lives, and hence don't really know what they're talking about.

Other than the above the book is a good read--a real page turner, as they say. The characters are stereotypical and have the "made for TV" dialog that never happens in real life, but that's par for the course in books in the action genre.
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on October 7, 2013
Another solid well written book.

This one starts off with a burglary. Not just any burglary. This one takes place in London at an auction house. The items being auctioned are what these guys are after.

Loads of gold, documents, manuscrits and many other expensive items.

One of the burglars, Jordan Orr, is after a gold hand and one manuscript in particular.

He and his cohorts kill the guards, get into the vault and steal everything of value. They make a clean getaway.

The getaway involves a boat.

Orr's three cohorts are gloating over the haul they just made and are wondering how much they will get out of the deal. Orr pulls a gun, kills all three. He scuttles the boat in the middle of the channel and leaves on an inflatable raft. He cares nothing for the men he has just killed.

The manuscript is more valuable than anyone can know.

Orr next kidnaps Carol Benedict and retired General Sherman Locke.

Benedict is the sister of Stacy Benedict. Stacy is a high view TV personality with her own show. She's also an expert in ancient Greek language.

General Sherman Locke is Tyler Lockes Dad.

Tyler Locke is a graduate of MIT and Stanford. Lock was also an Army combat engineer. He and his best friend Grant Westfield, a former Army Ranger and an electrical engineer currently work for Gordian Engineering.

Tyler is on a ferry from Seattle to Bremerton. Someone is trying to call him on his cell. This someone makes many calls. The caller is an unknown number. Tyler doesn't usually answer unknown mumbers. The caller is leaving messages and calling him Dr. Locke. While Locke is a PhD no one ever calls him Dr. Locke.

The last message sent tells him if he doesn't answer the call he will be dead in twenty-eight minutes. That gets Tylers attention. He answers the phone.

So begins one great read. Locke, Westfield and Stacy Benedict begin a rollercoaster of a ride.

Jordan Orr is after the Midas touch and he needs Locke, Benedict and Westfield to lead the way.

Both Stacy's sister Carol and Tylers Dad Sherman are the guarantee that Locke and Benedict do as they are told.

Loads of bad guys and of course the Midas touch.

Also a pretty cute segment where Tyler rides a horse. I LMAO on that one. I've ridden and shown horses for years and I can certainly sympathize with a guy who doesn't ride, trying to sit a trotting and galloping horse on an English saddle. Yup. LMAO.

Another rollercoaster of a ride and well worth those five stars.
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on June 28, 2013
National Treasure + DaVinci Code = The Vault. If you love action adventure novels & those 2 movies, then you need to check out this book!

I liked the premise of The Vault - the search for the mythical Midas Touch. I appreciated the scientific explanation that the author put on the legend in explaining how Midas could touch things and turn them to gold. This was a page turn and a quick read.

I gave this book 3 stars because for me, it didn't live up to Boyd's first two books, The Ark and The Catalyst, both of which I LOVED. Although The Vault had a unique storyline, there was nothing in the plot that grabbed my attention that hasn't already been done in other action/adventure books. There was the hero, his best friend, and the female side kick who all have to use their expertise and/or brawn to save the day. I also wasn't a fan of the dialogue and often felt it was cheesy. Some of the things the characters said as they were in peril were ridiculous given their situations.

After reading the book, there's one plot point that still stumps me. If Tyler Locke can solve ancient puzzles and outsmart international bad guys, how could he not change the flat tire on his SUV that forced him to drive his Viper on that fateful morning?

I'm still a big fan of Boyd Morrison & his books and look forward reading his other novels.
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on June 2, 2015
Another thrilling ride with Tyler Locke. I appreciate the research that goes into each book in the series and enjoy his skillful blending of fact and fiction. I started with book 3 in the series, and I've gone back to read one and two. Brad Morrison's books are reminiscent of James Rollins' stories, so if you are a James Rollins fan, give Brad Morrison's books a try.
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on December 23, 2015
This is a very good book. Lots of detailed action, great plot. We read this for our book club. We had read another of his books for our book club, The Ark. Look forward to reading more by Boyd Morrison
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on June 13, 2015
Started out great, got boring then turned silly. I checked out at 70%. Maybe I will read it later when I have nothing to do. But you really can't say too much wrong about this author, he got a coveted gig at Clive Cussler's farm. (We all know Cussler doesn't write any more).
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on June 12, 2014
I actually loved "The Ark". I was expecting to continue with the relationship of Tyler Locke and Dilate (Kenner) Arvadi, but she was no where to be found in this book. I was disappointed that Morrison just forgot all about the character that took us to Tyler Locke in the first place.

That being said, this book is obviously a second installment in what looks to be a series of Tyler Locke adventures. It could stand alone as it has no connection to "The Ark" other than Tyler Locke. So you really do not have to read them in order. It is still good solid writing and adventurous. I like Tyler Locke, he is right up there with Jack Collins from "The Event" series, Scott Harvath, and Pike Logan.

Still, I hope Morrison does not make the mistake of never bringing back Dilara Arvadi. She was a very important to the book's plot and important to Tyler and I do hope she returns or her absence is at least explained in future books in this
series. Her absence is noticed and distracting, because she was crucial to the plot of the first book and had started something with Tyler. To just drop her out of sight and out of Tyler's life did not make sense in this book. Still, I recommend Morrison's books because he is a solid writer. I really thought he did a good job on "Rogue Wave" as well.
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on May 16, 2014
This is the second book I have read by Morrison and I am already adding him to my must read authors list. I loved the history and adventure in this book and really enjoy the characters. I hope you check this book out and enjoy it as much as I did.
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