A greatest treasure is undoubtedly cursed in this fanciful, farcical novel

"Confidence" by Denise Mina (Mulholland Books, 294 pages, $28).

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"Confidence" by Denise Mina (Mulholland Books, 294 pages, $28).

We are suffering from a humor deficit. I won’t get into all the unfunny stuff that has been happening. You surely understand what I’m talking about. I really, really, really needed to laugh and found the perfect humorous literary vehicle to shuffle me away for a few precious hours in “Confidence,” the new novel by Denise Mina.

The author is a Scot from Glasgow. “Confidence” is the story of a couple of podcasters who are drawn into a mystery that surrounds an ancient Roman artifact which is rumored to contain new information about Jesus Christ. This engraved silver box once belonged to Pontius Pilate.

Anna McDonald and Fin Cohen are the podcasters. Anna is our protagonist and narrator. As the story begins Anna and Fin and their extended families are vacationing in a lighthouse. Things are not going well, the weather is bad, the kids are bored and the adults are having arguments.

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Anna has a mysterious, secret past. Fin is a vegan and way too skinny. Anna worries about him. As a storm swirls around the lighthouse Anna and Fin are conducting on-line investigations. They are trying to learn more about a young woman, Lisa Lee, an urban explorer and YouTube star.

Urban exploration (per Wikipedia) “(often shortened as UE, urbex and sometimes known as roof-and-tunnel hacking) is the exploration of manmade structures... Photography and historical interest/documentation are heavily featured in the hobby and it sometimes involves trespassing onto private property.”

Lisa Lee posted a video filmed inside an abandoned French chateau. It showed her finding the priceless Roman silver artifact and other treasures. YouTube took it down after Lisa Lee disappeared.

Anna and Fin were already intrigued when they learned the silver box had surfaced again and is about to be auctioned off in Paris. That’s all they needed to hear, they take off, leaving their families while they race away on a bizarre adventure to try to locate Lisa Lee and learn the secrets hidden within that mysterious artifact.

Were they being followed? They cannot be sure. Soon they encounter Bram, an ominous former drug smuggler who has shifted into another unsavory sideline smuggling rarities. He has a particular interest in that silver item. But that’s not all. There’s something else he really wants.

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Bram has his young son with him. Apparently they just met. Bram had not known this boy Marcos even existed. They are getting to know each other; their interactions become darkly hilarious. Bram is putting the podcasters up in luxury hotels and he keeps buying them fantastic meals. He also lies to them constantly. So very suspicious!

Our odd quartet, Anna, Fin, Bram, and Marcos rush along with their ultimate destination being the auction. Bram has been designated as the secret bidder on behalf of an American fundamentalist, a dollar store billionaire, who really wants to know what secrets are sealed inside that silver box. I am confident you will find “Confidence” is brilliantly conceived, fast-paced, and utterly entertaining.

Vick Mickunas of Yellow Springs interviews authors every Saturday at 7 a.m. and on Sundays at 10:30 a.m. on WYSO-FM (91.3). For more information, visit www.wyso.org/programs/book-nook. Contact him at vick@vickmickunas.com.

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