Wednesday, 2 May 2012

A bunch of book reviews

Hi all... bit behind on book reviews, hey hardly anyone comments but they get some of my best reader stats so here are the three I owe you.

Devils Elixir - Raymond Khoury

This continues with the main characters from Mr Khoury's previous two "Templar" novels (Last Templar & Templar Salvation) namely Tess Chaykin and Sean Reilly.  This time something/one from Reilly's FBI agent past comes back to haunt them.  Reilly gets a call from an old flame in desperate trouble.  The body count grows rapidly as chaos ensues as an evil drug baron believed to be long dead by the authorities tries to get his hands on a potent drug formula derived from an ancient South American Indian recipe.

One thing to say is that the style of this book is odd, many of the chapters are written in the 1st person from Reilly's point of view but then others, where he is not present in the action, are written in a typical 3rd person narration style.  I can't remember any of Mr Khoury's others being like this, I found it a bit disjointed at first frankly flipping the position of the reader as it were from participant to observer.

There is a really good twist at the end and it gets a strong single thumbs up on the Furtheron-International-Thumbs-Up-Book-Rating-Scheme (FITUBRS) - not as strong as previous Mr Khoury novels.  I'm also not sure using the main characters worked as it doesn't in anyway relate to the previous Templar novels - I'd have invented new protagonists... however I wonder if the Templar novels vastly outsold his other works and a pushy publisher was involved in that decision.  By the way - his best book by a long long way is The Sign - brilliant book, read that in preference to this.

Mozart Conspiracy - Scott Mariani

Ben Hope is an ex SAS major now retired who spends his time helping retrieve kidnap victims.  An old army buddy of his dies in Austria in a supposed accident but it seems out of character and riddled with suspicion.

Ben is drawn in by an old flame who is the sister of the dead guy when she too suddenly feels in threat of her life and soon they link it all to an old letter, reputedly written by Mozart, that her father found many years before and which her brother had been researching.

I enjoyed this one better than the first of these novels but there's a format here that I think I may tire of in the rest of the series if I do go further.  Also the ridiculous body count in these books is overly high for me, on two fronts, it is like those Hollywood action movies where the good guy seems to have to kill every bad guy on the planet before the final act and also you are led to believe Mr Hope is a sensitive soul who is one of the good guys, now most of the bodies are those of the "hired help" not the real perpetrators of the crimes but there is not a moment of hesitation or remorse in his actions.  That to me just doesn't ring true.

The underlying historic twist is an interesting sideline which deserves a bit more depth than this gives it.  A single thumbs up on the FITUBRS.

The Key - Simon Toyne

Second in Simon Toyne odyssey about the mythical Citadel and The Sacrament.  The Citadel is a fictional holy place in Turkey established virtually at the dawn of civilisation and which has guarded the secrets of The Sacrament since then.  This book picks up exactly where Sanctus (vol 1) left off, which it had to as that book didn't exactly leave you on a cliffhanger but almost ended mid-sentance, let alone mid-scene - so in some respects I doubt you can pick this up and read it without having read Sanctus before hand.

Liv Anderson finds herself in  hospital with several others but forces want them silenced as no-one has ever knowingly left the Citadel ever with knowledge of The Sacrament.  The plot focuses on religious zealotism, greed and corruption in the highest reaches of the Vatican.  Now that is interesting, The Citadel must out date Christianity by nature of it being so old - therefore why is it The Vatican who now hold the keys to this?  Surely it'd have to be an old religion, Judaism possibly, but I suppose there isn't as much mileage in corruption in Jerusalem as much at the Roman Catholic church. 

There is one other flaw in the plot line that leaves me confused - or at least having to stretch fitional credulity a little too far for my scientifically inclined mindset.  I'll try not to plot spoil folks but the final climax is based on a particular premiss, but that premiss is massive flawed by the timescales of nature.  So we have to assume that the Christian Bible is fact for the plot to work - that means the earth is 5000 years old appox, ok even if we stretch that and say the timelines are longer but look at the fact we know humans have only really been around what 200,000 years.  However what the baddies seek takes millions of years to form, therefore the timelines just don't compute.  Sorry Mr Toyne, it is a clever idea given the ruthlessless of characters in the middle of this but for my little head I was laughing as it is just frankly (to use my word to dismiss stuff these days) tosh.  But hey, this is fiction folks so roll with it if you can.

Not as good as the first book I didn't think but very good none the less and again you are left with another twist meaning you just have to buy the next book in the series to carry on - very clever this trilogy lark (I'm presuming it will be the classic trilogy there),   Gets a Thumb and Half on the FITUBRS.

1 comment:

  1. I went into WH Smith and bought one called A Discovery of Witches by Deborah Harkness... ancient manuscripts, vampyres, etc. It's all there.

    Haven't read any of it yet. Been reading the Famous Five instead.