According to the last words of a dying man, the Maltese Falcon was no mere legend: The fabulously jeweled golden bird really existed—still exists, in fact. And Ayesha Ryder is hot on its trail. Rumor says the Falcon conceals clues to the burial place of Harold II, the conquered Anglo-Saxon King of England—and to an artifact of astonishing significance that few besides Ryder would understand.
Hunted by Scotland Yard, MI5, and those who seek the Falcon to break up the United Kingdom, Ryder joins forces with Joram Tate, a mysterious librarian with a reputation for turning up things that don’t want to be found. Soon Ryder and her handsome, erudite new companion are venturing through lost tombs and ancient abbeys, following a trail left ages ago by the Knights Templar.
Ryder knows she’s close to a game-changing secret, hidden for a thousand years beneath an English castle. But with ruthless killers waiting in the wings, Ryder must go medieval—to defend her life, her country, and the world as we know it.
Praise for Ryder
“[Nick] Pengelley sets an unconventional story loose on and below the streets of London. With his unusual heroine, the author rejects the clichés of action-adventure thrillers and delivers a surprisingly entertaining read.”—Library Journal (starred review)
“An exciting thriller with characters that you can’t help but like . . . a thrill-a-minute story . . . well worth reading . . . Pengelley has a hit with the character of Ayesha Ryder.”—Fresh Fiction
“This fast-paced crime/political thriller not only is timely for today’s Israeli-Palestinian conflicts, but it delves into historical events that helped shape the way the region’s political climate has evolved. . . . Get ready for an edge-of-your-seat ride featuring a kick-butt heroine bent on justice . . . I had a blast reading Ryder.”—Popcorn Reads
“An Indiana Jones–type adventure . . . Ryder has an Angelina Jolie–esque quality about her. . . . She is strong, both mentally and physically, and she was an amazing character to read. . . . [Ryder is] a literary roller-coaster ride I truly appreciated!”—Read-Love-Blog
About the Author
Read an Excerpt
“The Israelis! They’ve taken Omar!”
Ayesha dropped the yellowed paperback she’d been reading. She stared at the man who’d burst through the open front door of her family’s apartment. Normally fastidious in matters of toilette, Yasser Mahmoud was a wreck. His bare feet protruded from filthy jeans. A once-white T-shirt was torn and stained. His hair was wild and his face unshaved.
Ghayda, Ayesha’s little sister, burst into tears. Omar, Mahmoud’s ten-year-old son, was her best friend. Ayesha had often teased her about the relationship, but now her heart went out to the girl. She put her arm around her shoulders.
“What happened? Why did they take him?” Ayesha’s mother asked Mahmoud.
“Omar was throwing stones. Yesterday. At the army patrol. The Israelis came in the middle of the night. We were all asleep. They smashed the door in. Dragged Omar out of bed. He was in his pajamas! They handcuffed him. They took him away—” Mahmoud broke down, sobbing.
“What will they do to Omar, Ayesha?” Ghayda sniffed. “They won’t hurt him?”
“Of course not. He’ll be home soon. You’ll see.” Ayesha didn’t believe her own words. At the age of twelve, she’d seen too much.
Ayesha Ryder blinked and rubbed her eyes. She took a swift look around the Ship. She knew everyone by sight, so she knew Zilinsky hadn’t arrived yet. She nodded to a couple of the regulars who’d come in while she’d been lost in her past. They smiled, but made no move to approach her. She appreciated the way they gave her space; never pestered her; treated her as one of their own. They’d never give out any information about her. It was one reason she’d arranged to meet Zilinsky here.
Yasser Mahmoud and his little son Omar . . . It had been so long since she’d thought of them. It was soon after Omar’s arrest that Ayesha’s sister, Ghayda, had died in an Israeli air strike on Gaza—to take out a terrorist, a known bomb maker. Ghayda and five of her young friends had been waiting for a school bus to take them home, near the man’s supposed location. The Israelis hadn’t got the bomb maker, but the children were all killed.
It was the last time Ayesha had seen her mother . . . normal. Her mother had lost her reason after Ghayda’s death, telling people that her daughter hadn’t really been killed; assuming that she’d be coming home. Then her mother, too, had been murdered. Ayesha had never known who was responsible. Until a year ago. When Yael Strenger—spy, diplomat, and assassin—had taunted her that he was the one; that he’d killed her mother. Ayesha shot him dead. Instantly, in a fit of rage. It was a deed she regretted. She should have let him live—until she’d dragged the whole truth from him.
Ayesha stared at the bar, fighting the tide of memory that threatened to wash over her. Pat, the barman, looked up from pouring a pint and caught her eye. His broad grin brought her back from the brink. She smiled and raised her glass in salute. The ugly memories receded. Her mood changed; she felt almost happy. It had, she decided, been rather a good day. It had started when the British prime minister, Susannah Armstrong, had invited her to lunch at Chequers, the leader’s official country retreat, in Buckinghamshire, outside London. After lunch they’d walked in the gardens.
“What do you think?” The prime minister had gestured to a longbow, propped against a garden table. A quiver of arrows lay on the table next to it.
“It’s beautiful,” Ayesha told Susannah. “Yew?”
“Yes. Six foot and made from a single piece. It’s a replica of one they found on the Mary Rose.” The prime minister referred to the flagship of Henry VIII’s navy, sunk in the Solent in 1545. The recovery of a substantial part of the wreck in 1982 had cast new light on numerous aspects of Tudor life and society. Among thousands of other artifacts, hundreds of longbows had been recovered, providing accurate information as to their dimensions and draw weight—something only guessed at previously.
“Where did it come from?”
“A grateful constituent. A businessman from Nottingham who’s into Robin Hood.”
“I’d love to try it.”
“We all will. You, too, Bebe,” Susannah said to the other woman who’d made up their luncheon trio.
A target had been set up about sixty feet from the terrace; an easy distance. The light, on a perfect September day, was just right.
Susannah went first, having swept up her long dark hair into a bun. The prime minister gave up after less than a minute, red-faced with exertion. “Impossible!” she gasped. “You’d need to be a weight lifter to draw this bloody thing!”
“May I?” Bebe Daniels asked eagerly.
Susannah’s private secretary was slightly built, not much above medium height, with sallow skin, short-cropped black hair, brown eyes flecked with gray, and soigné good looks. Lesbian, or bisexual, Ayesha guessed, aware of her prime minister’s sexual orientation. She hoped Susannah was careful. Divorced and single she might be, but there was a fair percentage of the British public who wouldn’t understand, or forgive. Susannah had come perilously close to being outed early in the summer. That experience would have been enough for most people. The prime minister had a strong streak of recklessness, though. It was what made her so successful as a politician. It could also ruin her.
Bebe selected an arrow. Then she positioned herself and leaned her body into the bow.
Ayesha was surprised. The woman knew what she was doing—using the weight of her body to draw the bow, not relying on the strength of her arms and shoulders. This impression was confirmed moments later, when Bebe put the arrow into the dead center of the target.
“Well done, Bebe!” Susannah slapped her private secretary on the back. “Is there no end to your talents?” The prime minister winked at Ayesha. “Think you can match that?”
Ayesha accepted the longbow from a smirking Bebe Daniels, and a thirty-inch arrow made of ash with an iron arrowhead from Susannah. She faced the target, her body assuming the familiar stance as if twenty years had not passed since she’d last done so, when, as a teenage member of the Palestinian fedayeen, she’d reveled in her mastery of a weapon that men twice her size had struggled with. She leaned into the bow, feeling its weight, the tension. Perfect. She laid the arrow against the left side of the bow and spread her fingers in the basic Mediterranean draw: forefinger on the string above the arrow, middle and ring finger on the string below it.
She focused her gaze on the target, seeing the flight of the arrow in her mind’s eye. She drew back on the bow, let out her breath, and released the arrow in one fluid motion.
“Ohmigod!” Susannah clapped her hands. “I don’t believe it!”
“Incredible!” Bebe stared at the target. She rounded on Ayesha, her eyes wide. “I’ve never seen that done. I didn’t think it could be.”
Ayesha handed the longbow to Susannah. She walked to the target and retrieved her arrow from the center of the bull’s-eye. Then, stooping, she picked up the shattered pieces of Bebe’s arrow. Her own arrow had split it down the middle.
Ayesha smiled at the memory. The pub door opened and a man entered. Another regular. She checked the time, frowning. Zilinsky was late. He’d texted her when he arrived at St. Pancras International. That was nearly two hours ago. This time of night, with light traffic, he should have been here well before now. She hoped he hadn’t changed his mind. She wouldn’t be surprised if he had. She still didn’t know why he’d agreed to bring the Maltese Falcon to a London pub.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
Like watching a action film. Exciting but not overly serious.
The first Ryder book was different and entertaining. This one is not. aj west
Great Addition to Suspenseful and Action Packed Series I received a complimentary copy of this book as a part of a book tour for a fair and honest review and rated it 4.5 out of 5 stars. At the end of Ryder: American Treasure, historian and adventuress Ayesha Ryder was tired, a little beat up and desperate to go back to her research. Something that’s not exactly easy to do when you’re the female version of Indiana Jones and your friends keep getting you involved in solving historical mysteries. Lured by the tale that “The Maltese Falcon”, of Dashiell Hammett fame, is real and still in existence, Ayesha finds herself once again drawn into a treasure hunt in Ryder: Bird of Prey. A thriller filled with political intrigue, dastardly villains and a light touch of romance, Mr. Pengelley’s third installment in the Ayesha Ryder series is sure to be a hit among mystery fans. Although already an established character, Mr. Pengelley turns up the heat on Ayesha’s character by providing us with more information about her early life in the Middle East and by providing her with a new sidekick, Joram Tate. Still suffering with occasional flashbacks to her activities in the Fedayeen, and her family’s death, Ayesha hopes that getting her hands on the “Maltese Falcon” will help her locate the sword owned by King Harold of England (a.k.a. Excalibur) and also help her locate the lost treasure of the Knights Hospitaller (crusaders who stole the treasure from The Holy Land). Filled with existing, and well developed, secondary characters, Mr. Pengelley turns up the heat by once again placing Ayesha in a situation where she’s forced to hide from, and outrun, Dame Imogen and MI-5 and once again depend on Lady Madrigal and also on Joram Tate, a new character, who is a librarian with information on the “Maltese Falcon”. An intelligent, attractive man, Joram is an interesting character and one I could see becoming a series regular. The fact that he and Ayesha have great chemistry is also a major plus, all while working for a man who she doesn't like and whose secret agenda is something Ayesha would never approve of. Will Ayesha locate the real Maltese Falcon and will it give her the clues she needs to find the hidden treasure? Will she somehow manage to save her adopted country and its prime minister once again? You’ll have to read Ryder: Bird of Prey to find out. I enjoyed it and look forward to reading Ayesha’s next adventure,
Simply superb! Another fantastic adventure! This is the third book in the series and is just as superb as the earlier two! The Bird of Prey being sought by Ayesha Ryder in this story is the Maltese Falcon. The story involves solving historic clues, the attempted assassination of a prime minister, murder, archaeology, ancient weapons – including cannons and bows and arrows, parliamentary malpractice, MPs, students, a special family member, new friends, lots of intrigue and twists and turns. Brilliantly written, with a strong, resourceful and highly intelligent female lead, the story takes the reader on a whirlwind adventure involving many relatively current real occurrences woven into the fabric if the novel making you question what is fact and what is fiction. Superb, scintillating and stupendous – or to put it more plainly, simply brilliant. This is a book I wholeheartedly recommend to anyone who enjoys great writing with historical and current affairs entwined in a fast paced, all action mystery thriller. Whilst it isn’t essential to have read the earlier books in this series to fully appreciate this one, they are all great books so I really recommend you to read them all. I eagerly await the publication of sequels to this as the story continues. This is one of those all action books that you really wish someone would make into a film – they’d be brilliant! Thanks to the author, publishers and NetGalley, too, for letting me read this book in exchange for an honest review.
Each new Ryder story is more intense and exciting than the last. The fabled Maltese Falcon is the new trigger to a Ryder search , with bad guys coming out of the woodwork and true evil in various disguises. The suspense and action is non-stop. I warn you, you will not be able to stop reading once you start until you reach the end. Dr. Ryder's intellect enables her to understand the most puzzling clues, and her uncanny martial arts ability keeps her in harms way with a minimum of damage. When you finish the book, you will have to allow time for your heart rate to return to normal and your breathing to slow. The story is that intense, right up to the end.
Nick Pengelley in his new book, “Ryder: Bird of Prey” Book Three in the Ayesha Ryder series published by Alibi gives us another adventure with Ayesha Ryder. From the back cover: Fans of Steve Berry and James Rollins will devour Ryder: Bird of Prey, the latest white-knuckle thriller featuring Palestinian-born, British-educated adventurer Ayesha Ryder. She’s one of fiction’s boldest heroines—and now she’s rewriting royal history. According to the last words of a dying man, the Maltese Falcon was no mere legend: The fabulously jeweled golden bird really existed—still exists, in fact. And Ayesha Ryder is hot on its trail. Rumor says the Falcon conceals clues to the burial place of Harold II, the conquered Anglo-Saxon King of England—and to an artifact of astonishing significance that few besides Ryder would understand. Hunted by Scotland Yard, MI5, and those who seek the Falcon to break up the United Kingdom, Ryder joins forces with Joram Tate, a mysterious librarian with a reputation for turning up things that don’t want to be found. Soon Ryder and her handsome, erudite new companion are venturing through lost tombs and ancient abbeys, following a trail left ages ago by the Knights Templar. Ryder knows she’s close to a game-changing secret, hidden for a thousand years beneath an English castle. But with ruthless killers waiting in the wings, Ryder must go medieval—to defend her life, her country, and the world as we know it. There is something about The Maltese Falcon. It gave tough guy Humphrey Bogart’s Sam Spade a huge amount of trouble and now, it seems, it is giving Ayesha Ryder even more. Who would have believed that the statue could hold information that could change England? Ayesha is hired to find it and there are those that do not want it found. Fast paced action, treasure hunts and hidden clues all the while being pursued by deadly assassins are just some of the ingredients in this third adventure with Ayesha Ryder. “Ryder: Bird of Prey” is a top-notch adventure that will really get your blood flowing as you flip pages trying to find out what is going to happen next. Mr. Pengelley really knows how to write a good story that involves you and keeps your interest. I am so glad to have found Nick Pengelley and am looking forward to the next book in this series. Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from TLC Book Tours. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”