WELCOME BACK REBECCA YOUNT
Rebecca Yount is a native-born Midwesterner who always had a desire to travel. Now in a third professional career as the author of the Mick Chandra mystery series, she and her husband arrange free home exchanges in England, Scotland, and France. The Mick Chandra books take place in England.
In ebook format, the first three books of the Mick series are available from all major vendors. They have garnered 4, and mainly, 5-star reviews. There are currently 7 books in the Mick series, with #8 on the way. She can be reached at: RebeccaYount.com and Rebecca Yount author.
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UNEARTHING THE TREASURE:
Why I Love The Ravenhoe Cauldron
When I was a child, nothing excited me more than the prospect of a visit to the Ohio Historical Society Museum. In the 1950s and 60s, waterparks and such were rare in central Ohio. So if we wanted to do something special, we had to seek other amusements. That might entail a double feature at the movies, a walk in our lovely county park, or a pick-up baseball game in an open field. But the crème de la crème of outings was a day at the museum.
My friends and I had different reasons for loving the museum, but we all agreed on one thing: the mummy was the star. Yes, the mummy. One. That was all the collection could boast at the time. But, boy, was she a doozy!
To this day, I remember being transfixed by her slender figure, her long, black tapered fingers peeking out from the linen wrappings, and her disproportionately large feet. I don’t remember her name, but she was the 19-year-old daughter of a prominent high priest. Her contemporary portrait, displayed above her sarcophagus, revealed the full-body right profile of a beautiful young woman, a single bare breast exposed. My, how the boys hooted over that.
But I had other priorities. This centuries-old deceased young woman inspired me to fall in love with archeology.
As a 10-year-old, I dramatically announced to my redoubtable father, “One day I’m going to become an archeologist.”
“Oh, yeah? Spell it,” he challenged me.
I did. Correctly.
It was not to be. Instead, I devoted some twenty+ years to being a concert pianist and then, in order to eat and pay my rent, worked in education policy development in Washington, D.C. On early retirement, I fulfilled another dream: I became a fiction writer.
So, by way of a long introduction, this is where the third book in my Mick Chandra mystery series comes in: The Ravenhoe Cauldron, my favorite among the completed seven. Why? Because the story centers on archeology.
Some years ago I had intended to write a novel for young adults that featured an ancient Celtic setting. But I just couldn’t get it to come together, so I put that project aside. However, I had already completed a considerable amount of research for the book.
As I added books to my Mick Chandra mystery series, I stumbled upon an idea to write an installment in which Mick and company must find a missing 2,000-year-old gold Celtic ceremonial cauldron that was stolen from a local museum in Colchester, England.
Eureka! Talk about mining gold. I was able to finally use all of that research about Celtic culture and history that I had previously set aside. As I wrote The Ravenhoe Cauldron, it was apparent that I was vicariously living my childhood dream of being an archeologist. When the fictional diggers mine the pits for Celtic artifacts, I’m right there with them, digging away as well.
I had great fun researching the book at the archeological site in Colchester. Also, it was fascinating to conduct further research at the Colchester and British Museums. Both collections feature a wealth of Celtic artifacts, many rendered in solid gold.
The Ravenhoe Cauldron also addresses two additional intriguing topics: the antiquities black market and fake busting. Both of these I had to learn from the bottom up, which involved a massive amount of additional research.
The sale of stolen antiquities ranks among the top four most lucrative international crimes. And there are only a handful of credible fake busters in this world who can detect the real from the forgeries.
Here’s where good research enriches a story. What is one way a fake buster can detect ancient gold as opposed to newer gold? By tasting it. Gold, unless it’s absolutely pure, contains a certain amount of copper and other impurities. Over time the combination of these impurities can cause slight corrosion. Therefore, the older the gold the more coppery-metallic the taste. Experienced goldsmiths refer to this taste as “sour.”
Jamie Geller, Mick’s undercover agent, makes the mistake of tasting the gold on an artifact that a dealer is trying to fence. By doing so, he gives himself away as an agent for the police. Typically, collectors of stolen antiquities want a fast deal and mistakenly assume authenticity. As Thomas Hoving, one of the world’s most sought-after fake busters, wrote: “Need, speed, and greed” are paramount in the illegal antiquities trade.
I have come to appreciate that writing fiction is not unlike digging for treasure. As I write, I am excavating amazing discoveries.
So it would seem that I have become an archeologist after all.
ABOUT THE BOOK
The garotted corpse of Stanislaw Janus, a notorious antiquities thief and forger, is discovered in an excavation pit at an archeological site near Colchester, on England’s east coast. A former curator of pre-Roman British artifacts at the British Museum, Janus had turned to crime and was fencing forgeries on the international antiquities black market. Just before his murder, Janus had engineered the theft of the priceless Ravenhoe Cauldron from the Colchester Museum. The nearly 2,000-year-old solid gold vessel had been unearthed by archaeologists …… in the very pit where Janus’ corpse was discovered.
Despite being on parental leave to care for his four-month-old daughter, Detective Inspector Michael “Mick” Chandra is put in charge of the case, his family leave suspended by New Scotland Yard’s commissioner. Mick must find Janus’ murderer as well as locate the missing cauldron, but his task will not be easy. Interpol reveals that Janus assumed multiple identities and remained maddenly out of the reach of law enforcement agencies. Nathaniel Wyatt, his former colleague at the British Museum, describes Janus as the “Steppenwolf” — charming one minute, vicious the next.
Mick calls upon the Yard’s Arts and Antiquities Unit for help in this complex case and as it turns out, he will need all the help he can get, as the case becomes increasingly fraught with danger and risk.
A diverse cast of characters illuminates and obscures Stanislaw Janus’ past: Dr. Cassandra Palmer, Chief Curator of the Colchester Museum, who had known Janus for more than a decade; Dr. Gill Metcalf, director of the archeological dig who openly disdains Janus; Alissa Woo, Metcalf’s beautiful graduate assistant, who originally discovered the cauldron at the Colchester site; Nathaniel Wyatt, Janus’ former colleague, who believes the cauldron will never be recovered; and Anderson Peale III, noted wealthy collector of Celtic artifacts, who may not be as reputable as he seems. Added to this cast is Janus’ star-crossed mistress, Regina, who passes onto Mick her lover’s personal diary.
Familiar faces from the two previous Mick Chandra books return as well: Jessica Beaumont, the American-born pianist who is now Mick’s wife; Mick’s friend and chief informant, Jamie Geller; and Mick’s no-nonsense partner, Sergeant Elizabeth Chang.
And then there is the mysterious rust-encrusted key sent through Mick’s home mail slot bearing a note that reads: “The key to the Ravenhoe Cauldron.”
Published by: Self
Publication Date: June 30, 2013
Number of Pages: 401
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