Read of the Week

Gold Never Rusts

Paul-Constant Smit

PenguinRandomHouse

Review: Brian Joss

South Africa is a treasure trove of stories just waiting to be found and one of these is Gold Never Rusts, featuring an American, Con Slaughter, prospector, hunter, sharpshooter and a secret treaty that could change the course of world history.

The sweep of this epic includes the discoveries on the Barberton gold fields, the Boer War, Pretoria, Durban, Cape Town, love lost and found and British and German intelligence agencies.

It opens with a flashback to 998 BC when General Sri, dying from a poisoned arrow, orders his second-in-command to bury a document meant for Sri’s daughter, the Queen of Sheba, that he will find in his campaign bag aboard his ship anchored off the coast of Africa.

The story runs to 1499 AD, after which it focuses on Slaughter, not the name he was born with, who saw his mother shot and killed, when he was just eight years old.

Thanks to guidance from the McLoud brothers, Ten and Chip and their hunting partner, Tim Silver, on the wide open plains of America, Slaughter learns to fend for himself and it is there that he is reunited with his father, who tells him about their German ancestry, his mother’s royal Irish roots and two strongboxes in a Liechtenstein bank.

Slaughter eventually finds his way to southern Africa and the gold fields. While prospecting he finds long-buried documents about a gold seeking expedition and he strikes it rich in Pilgrim’s Rest.

Slaughter’s life is just one big adventure.

He gets involved in the Boer War, rides with Jannie Smuts, becomes a close adviser to Oom Paul (Kruger), and befriends the rich, the poor, the famous and the infamous, and marries a beautiful woman who dies leaving him devastated. All the while waiting for a bullet in the back from the British or Germans who want to get their hands on that secret treaty.

“Kruger’s Millions” which the old president reportedly buried when he fled Pretoria, feature briefly in the epilogue, when Slaughter meets him in the Netherlands. If you’re looking for elegant writing then you won’t find it in Gold Never Rusts.

What you will find in this door-stopper book is a solid, fast moving adventure.