The Golden Keel

The Golden Keel

Infobox Book
name = The Golden Keel
title_orig =
translator =

image_caption = 1986 UK paperback cover
author = Desmond Bagley
illustrator =
cover_artist =
country = United Kingdom
language = English
series =
subject =
genre = Thriller novel
publisher = William Collins & Sons
release_date = 1963
media_type = Print
pages = 221 pgs
isbn = ISBN 0-00-615583-9
preceded_by = none
followed_by = High Citadel

"The Golden Keel" is the debut novel by English author Desmond Bagley, first published in 1963. Written in the first person narrative, the introductory biography of the protagonist is closely patterned after that of the author.

Plot introduction

Peter Halloran, a migrant to South Africa after the end of World War II has established himself in a successful and profitable designer and builder of yachts and small watercraft. Life is good – business is good, and he has a beautiful wife and daughter. One day, in the local yacht club bar, he meets Walter, an alcoholic ex-soldier, who tells him an improbable tale of a hidden treasure. When Walter was a prisoner of war in Fascist Italy, he managed to escape with a small band of Allied prisoners, including an Afrikaner named Coertze and some Italian partisans, and waged a guerilla campaign for several months in the hills of Liguria against the Nazi Germans. Towards the end of the war, their band ambushed a truck convoy, which contained a massive treasure in gold bars, jewels and even the State Crown of Ethiopia. Rather than turn the treasure over to the authorities, they hid the trucks in an abandoned mine and sealed the entrance. Now that the war is over, the treasure is for the claiming, provided that they can think of some way to smuggle it past Italian customs.

Halloran thinks little of the tale until several years later, when life has turned sour. His wife and daughter having been killed in a traffic accident, he finds that he needs a change in life. A chance re-encounter with Walker leads to a meeting with Coertze, and with the three men agreeing to a partnership to recover the treasure. Walker and Coertze know where it is, and Halloran has the perfect solution to getting it out of the country. But questions start to worry Halloran – such as why only Walker and Coertze survived out of the much larger group of guerillas, and why Walker is so terrified of Coertze? The mystery deepens as the men travel to Tangiers, and from thence to ports around the Mediterranean and find their steps dogged by unsavory characters. It is soon clear that they are not the only ones after the treasure.

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