San Francisco lawyer Samuel J. Bogardus has no way of knowing that the seemingly routine adoption case steered to him by his dottering mother is about to ensnare him in a web of intrigue, black-market art and murder spanning four centuries.
The beautiful and alluring client, Jennifer Davies, has handed Bogardus a package containing a cryptic note. James Spencer, Jennifer’s natural father, believed killed years before in a freak aviation accident, is alive, and Bogardus will need all of his investigative and legal skills to locate him. But inside the envelope Sam finds an even more intriguing message, for attached to the note are four pages of ancient parchment bearing an elegant but faded script and signature penned in a bold hand; the name – “FRANCIS DRAKE.”
Bogardus shares the discovery with his former lover and law partner, the sensuous, magnetic and headstrong Susan Paterson. Unaware of the terrible cost to be exacted for this indiscretion, Bogardus’s curiosity soon turns to vengeance. The vendetta is not cooled by confirmation that the parchments are authentic, part of a journal written by the English Explorer in the 16th Century, and by a bizarre twist of fate delivered to an unknown American buyer by Nazi war profiteers.
Pursuing a trail of murder, Bogardus uncovers a mystery buried in the text of the four pages, a secret committed to paper by Drake on his departure from the western shores of North America 350 years before. As Sam and Jennifer track the killer through a tangled web of deceit, they uncover the remnants of an elaborate black market art scheme – a conspiracy so perfidious that it numbers among its victims the publishing mogul and collector – William Randolph Hearst.
The Simeon Chamber spirals in a suspense-filled course from the gilded rooms of Hearst’s San Simeon Castle to the craggy cliffs of California’s north coast. It is a quest for a king’s ransom in lost antiquities and revenge which winds its way from the precipice of suspense to a spine-chilling and shocking conclusion.