Friday, 19 March 2010

The Genesis Secret - Tom Knox

Dan Brown has a lot to answer for, and like so many books in this genre, The Genesis Secret by Tom Knox opens with the discovery of an extremely violent and bloody ritualistic murder.  It almost seems that the authors are in some kind of competition to see who can think up the most revolting, slow and painful way to die.  So, you have been warned, this is not a novel for the squeamish.  Or you can do what I do, which is skim read the really nasty bits and try not to miss anything important to the story.

So here we go.  The Genesis Secret opens with the discovery of an extremely bizarre. ritualistic murder in Benjamin Franklin's house in London, which is now a museum.  It looks as though the caretaker disturbed a group of burglars digging in the cellar; but why the extreme violence? DCI Forrester has never seen a case like this, and it soon escalates as another body is found in the Isle Of Man that has been ritually murdered.

Meanwhile Rob Luttrell is sent to the arid wastelands of Turkey to write an archaeological piece on a mysterious site called Gobekli Tepe, the oldest temple ever excavated.  Gobekli Tepe is a haunted place, a massive stone temple that had been deliberately buried in tons of earth 8,000 years ago.  The question is why? As Luttrell digs a bit deeper to get a more interesting story, he becomes aware of tensions between the Kurdish workers and the archaeologists. Also the leader of the dig has been behaving oddly, digging alone in the middle of the night, keeping secrets from his staff.  When Breitner is killed in what could just be a nast accident or maybe murder, Luttrell joins forces with Christine, an attractive French archaeologist, to find out what secrets Breitner has been keeping that people considered important enough to kill for.

As the strange, ritual killings continue in England it becomes clear that the killers are looking for something. The life of Luttrell and his loved ones and the highly intelligent, but psychotic, leader of the gang become enmeshed after Luttrell publishes a piece in the paper on his amazing experiences and finding in Kurdistan.  Luttrell has uncovered a secret that the gang want to remain buried forever, and don't mind what they have to do to achieve their goal. The question is can Luttrell move quickly enough to protect Christine and his daughter from suffering the same fate as the gang's other victims. Can he get to the bottom of what has remained a secret for thousands of years? Leaving the police behind he returns to Turkey, following his own instincts and leads, but can he do enough to save his daughter and keep himself and Christine alive?

As to what to have for lunch when reading this book, you might find it best to read on an empty stomach.  Have a large glass of water handy or maybe a small glass of brandy.  The Genesis Secret is a good, pacy thriller, with lots of interesting historical facts thrown in.  But there are some very nasty murders, so to be avoided if you have a very vivid imagination!

Sunday, 14 March 2010

The House at Midnight - Lucie Whitehouse

Lucas Heathfield is Jo's best friend, but he has a tangled past and a complicated family history.  All through their days at Oxford, and then when they start working in London, Jo is attracted to Lucas but does not know whether he wants anything more from her than friendship.

Everything changes for Lucas, Jo and their small group of close friends when Lucas inherits the imposing country house, Stoneborough, from his Uncle Patrick.  The charismatic Patrick had very unexpectedly committed suicide, and coming so close after his mother's death, Lucas is devastated.

Lucas wants to share the house and his new wealth with his friends, and they start to visit the house every weekend.  Jo is delighted when Lucas deepens their relationship and they become a couple.  But very soon Jo starts to wonder whether their new relationship can last, especially when Lucas announces that he is giving up his law career in London and moving to Stoneborough permanently to write.  Moreover, their mercurial and manipulative friend Danny is also moving with him, after being fired from his prestigious job.

Jo finds the big house hostile and is aware of currents of dark energy and emotions from long ago swirling through the dark of the night. When Lucas finds a box full of old cine films taken when his uncle, parents and their friends visited Stoneborough, he becomes obsessed with watching them.  Events take a dramatic turn when Jo's unhappiness leads her to give into a new passion and betray Lucas and one of her best friends.

But Lucas cannot let Jo go, and she finds herself repeatedly pulled back to Stoneborough, where Lucas is becoming more unstable and unhappy.  Resolving to break away from the situation forever, Jo wonders what Danny's real agenda is and what lengths he will go to to get his own way.  As Lucas uncovers more secrets from his family's past, the situation at Stoneborough builds to a tense climax.  But will the dark forces that seem to control the house, lead to tragedy once again and claim more victims?