The Golden Keel was published in 1963 with a cover design by Renato Fratini.
‘This riveting novel of adventure is based on a true story, one of the most daring hijacking exploits in recent history, which, despite the conviction of over a score of men and women for alleged complicity, continues to baffle both the Italian police and Interpol.
When the Allies landed in Italy during the last war, Mussolini’s vast personal treasure, consisting of four tons of gold, millions in currency and jewels, and some of the most important Government archives, was moved north in a German S.S. convoy. As the convoy neared the Liguarian coast, it vanished. It has never been recovered.
Desmond Bagley has cleverly reconstructed this coup and devised an ingenious fiction about the treasure’s fate and an attempt, years afterwards, by a group of men in the know to get hold of it and smuggle it out of Italy. For this purpose, a successful Cape Town boat-builder designs an ocean-going yacht and sails to the Mediterranean, aided and abetted by a South African, and an Englishman, both former P.O.W.’s in Italy. Between them, they have evolved a technically ingenious plan. To reach the treasure proves difficult enough; to get it out of Italy and dispose of it is even worse, especially since the Italian Government, a group of former partisans led by a ruthless and beautiful Contessa, and a piratically inclined British smuggler are all hot on the trail. The fate of the yacht and her crew is charted with breathtaking skill and suspense, and without revealing the outcome, it can be safely said that Desmond Bagley’s sea chase across the Mediterranean puts him straight into the great narrative tradition of those who write of small boats on big seas.’
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Images and first edition blurb © & courtesy of HarperCollins Publishers Ltd.