Mystery/Thriller Book Reviews

The Internet Writing Journal, April 2006

The Alpine Recluse by Mary Daheim

Ballantine, April, 2006
Hardcover, 320 pages
ISBN: 0345468147
Ordering information:
Amazon.com | Amazon.co.uk


The Alpine Recluse
by Mary Daheim The small town of Alpine, Washington is being subjected to a most unusual heat wave and the residents are dreaming of cooler climes. When the house of feuding couple Tim and Tiffany Rafferty burns to the ground, the town is shocked when Tim's body is found in the debris. But it gets worse: Tim was killed with a blunt instrument before the fire started and the fire appears to be caused by arson. Emma Lord, editor of the local newspaper and seasoned amateur sleuth, sets out to find a murderer, but it's not easy in a town where passions run deep and everyone seems to have a secret they'd like to remain hidden. Eccentric and interesting characters, a thoughtfully drawn puzzle and wonderful local color explain why the Emma Lord series is so popular with cozy mystery readers.


The Last Templar by Raymond Khoury

Dutton, January, 2006
Hardcover: 416 pages
ISBN: 0525949410
Ordering information:
Amazon.com | Amazon.co.uk


The Last Templar
by Raymond Khoury Archeologist Tess Chaykin is attending the star-studded black tie gala at the Metropolitan Museum of Art which is celebrating the Treasures of the Vatican exhibit. Tess is treated to a front row seat as four masked horsemen dressed as Templar Knights sweep into the museum from Central Park, attacking anyone who tries to stop them. At first, the crowd is appreciative, thinking that it's all a publicity stunt, but when one Knight decapitates a security guard, the crowd's delight turns to horror. Inside the museum, the lead Knight smashes the cases and seizes a strange looking device with gears and rotors. The horsemen disappear into the night and chaos reigns. FBI counter-terrorism expert Sean Reilly is on the task force assigned to recover the items and hits it off immediately with Tess. They discover that the missing item is an ancient decoder which holds the clue to deciphering an ancient manuscript which tells the location of a long-hidden document guarded by the Knights Templar. A number of people, including a crack assasin for the Vatican, are after the priceless manuscript which contains a secret that would permanently change Christianity and the beliefs of millions of people.

Screenwriter Raymond Khoury, who is best known for his work on the hit BBC show Spooks (known as MI5 in the U.S.) originally wrote the story as a screenplay and the perfectly-executed, exciting actions scenes reveal those cinematic roots. Although the story does contain Knights Templar and ancient Vatican texts, the story travels a different road from The Da Vinci Code -- in fact, Khoury began writing his story before Dan Brown's book was released. This is Khoury's first published novel and it is absolutely riveting, as the story alternates between the present day and the romance between the Catholic Sam and the atheist Tess and the ancient Templars who went to their graves to protect an astounding secret . Ancient clues, a shocking secret from the past and breathtaking action scenes make this a must-buy for fans of Dan Brown and James Rollins.


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