Sanctus is Simon Toyne's first novel. I popped over to his website and he has a not unfamiliar lifestory. He originally wanted to be an actor but found out that wasn't really his first love but ended up in film making expecting Hollywood to beckon at some point... it never did but he has had a successful career but then... the midlife crisis! He wanted to make his own blockbusters but never likely to get the backing so decided to write novels. He took a year out, packed his family off to France (now one thing this tells you - he has a loving family!) and wrote. Sanctus is the result.
The underlying premise of Sanctus is enticing - an ancient citadel in Turkish city that is possibly one of the old permanently and consistently inhabited places on earth. The citadel is home to a very reclusive order of monks who are rarely if ever seen out of the place. Rumours abound that they hold a very very dark secret inside the mountain that they have built on. One day a monk is seen standing on the very top of the mountain and suddenly he plunges to his death.
The story then involves a journalist from America, a very old man from Brazil and his family in Turkey who know much more about the monks than anybody outside the citadel, a policeman who tries to investigate the death and the monks themselves.
For anyone who likes modern day thrillers with a mystical, historical flavour then this is a good read. The plot is fast paced and the use of small punchy chapters rattles you through with quick speed being very episodic between the various characters and interweaving plot lines. A bit Dan Brown in style. And will you find out what "The Sacrament" is, the secret the monks so carefully protect from the outside world - and why do they keep it so secret? One thing I did find - the beginning of the book felt like there had been slightly more time spent on the descriptions of places, events, feelings etc. and this died of as the plot pace increased - a shame I thought it one of the highlights at the start and did set it apart from the likes of Dan Brown and others who are a bit bereft in that department at times.
Don't proceed further if you don't want a couple of potential little spoilers for you...
Actually the exposure of this bit was for me stretching of incredulity just a little too far when initially revealed but then I quickly did see the point of it. Also the book doesn't successfully end - this is because it is part one in a trilogy but I still feel there could have been a better wrap up of some of the hanging threads but then I suppose there'd be less incentive to buy the next volume.
Overall a nearly double thumbs up in the Furtheron scale of books - a good one thumbs up and the other more up and than down... I really need to rethink the thumbs up scale here - or at least provide a glossary of possible Thumbs Up settings...