In 1558 a Spanish galleon headed for the new world with supplies for the Spanish colonies. Severely damaged in a storm, it sank off the coast of Georgia.  Now, inside one of the largest cofferdams ever built for the purpose of archaeology, Lindsay Chamberlain is excavating the galleon on the ocean floor.  The walls of the dam are literally holding back the Atlantic Ocean while Lindsay and the archaeology crew work digging up the past, an expensive venture for the University of Georgia and for the company that built and maintains the dam.  Lindsay's nemesis and new head of the Division of Anthropology and Archaeology, Francisco Lewis, is staking his reputation on the success of the project. John
West, Lindsay's friend, is risking his future and his construction company on the safety of the cofferdam. For Lindsay and a fellow faculty member, Trey Marcus, it's a magical opportunity to understand a past history that didn't unfold on land, but out at sea.

At least one passenger survived to tell the tale of the ship's voyage and destruction. His diary, written in a code of Latin shorthand and archaic Spanish, reveals details of the voyage and life at sea, a treasure of information for the archaeologists now recovering the remains of the ship. The pages of the diary tell tales of sea monsters and mythical creatures of the deep, and tell of another ship--a secret ghost galleon which had been sailing to Spain loaded with more treasure in gold, silver and precious jewels than has ever been found.

The diary also reveals that a never-solved murder occurred on the journey.  The ship sank even before the murder victim could have a proper burial at sea.  So Lindsay Chamberlain has the skeletal remains of the victim, a skeleton crew of suspects from the wreck, and the diary--all that the clever Lindsay needs to solve a crime over 440 years after the fact.

Anxiety takes its toll on the archaeology crew with the ocean and its pounding waves only two bulkheads and 20 feet of sand away. Their fears are heightened by an approaching hurricane, and there's the added problem of modern day pirates on the horizon waiting for the archaeologists to find treasure. This ship was coming from Spain, say the archaeologists--it wasn't carrying treasure.  But Lindsay herself finds gold doubloons on the beach. Adding to the troubles, one of the bidders for the construction of the cofferdam turns up dead, along with a beach bum who had found an emerald encrusted gold cross.

As tensions and trouble escalate, Lindsay must solve the murders, and everyone is a suspect--because, who can resist the temptation of so much gold?
Read A Review:

In 1558 a Spanish galleon headed for the New World with supplies for the Spanish colonies was damaged in a storm and sank off the coast of Georgia. Lindsay Chamberlain, an archaeologist from the University of Georgia, is called to help excavate the site believed site of the ship. They are excavating on the ocean floor inside one of the largest cofferdams ever built for archaeology. A cofferdam is a round structure that keeps the ocean out of the excavation area.

Francisco Lewis ("Lewis") is the new head of the Division of Anthropology and Archaeology at the University of Georgia. John West is a Native American and friend of Lindsay Chamberlain. His construction company designed and built the cofferdam.

A diary is discovered that is believed to belong to one of the passengers that survived to tell of the ship's voyage and destruction. Harper is translating the diary while the excavation is ongoing. As they discover skeletons in the shipwreck, Lindsay uses the translated diary to help identify each skeleton. She draws what she believes the person would have looked like from studying the skull.

Various accidents as well as 2 murders plague the archaeology project. Only a few select crew members are aware that they are also searching for a possible 2nd ship that was supposed to have sunk in this same area full of treasure. They especially have to try to keep this information from modern-day "pirates" also searching the waters.

There is lots of tension between the archaeologists and the biologists who were on the neighboring island and have been displaced due to this project.

Lewis asks Lindsay to help solve the murders so that the project won't be jeopardized.

I enjoyed this book. I've never read an archaeological mystery before so I learned a lot about archaeology along with enjoying the mystery.

I found the characters to be likeable and very real. Many times I felt as if I was there with them.

I look forward to reading additional books in this series.

Dawn Dowdle