Wednesday, 17 July 2013

The Deceit – Tom Knox

RatingThree Sandwiches out of five

I was very wary of picking up another Tom Knox title after ‘The Genesis Secret’.  This was not because I didn’t enjoy the novel; it was more to do with the fact that some of the violence and ritualistic murders were very gruesome and graphically described.  But the plot of ‘The Deceit’ sounded interesting, so I thought I would have another try.

‘The Deceit’ is a thriller set in Egypt and Cornwall where in two seemingly separate stories Egyptologist Ryan Harper joins the search for some priceless, ancient papyri known as the ‘Sokar documents’ and DI Karen Trevithick investigates an incident where cats are burned in a grisly, ancient ritual. The documents Ryan Harper is seeking were found on the corpse of his old tutor Victor Sassoon after he had deliberately walked out into the desert and hid in a cave until he died.  Dating from the time of the earliest Christians in Egypt, The Copts, what secrets did the documents contain that Sassoon felt were so important they remain hidden that he was prepared to die rather than they be found?

After recovering some of the documents, Harper finds himself on the run in Egypt with the attractive German filmmaker Helen Fassbinder, desperately trying to translate the obscure Coptic script in order to solve the mystery they contain. As he deciphers the clues, what is revealed leads them to Bubastis and the ancient underground necropolis of the mummified cats.  Violence soon erupts however, and they are taken prisoner by a small band of what appear to be mercenary soldiers.  But are they really there to save them and protect them as they say or do they really have more sinister motives?  Their quest takes them next to Luxor and then down to Aswan and the temple of Philae. But everywhere they turn they are faced with more attempts on their life and a mysterious illness.

Back in Cornwall the hideous ritual of the sacrifice of the cats is followed by the discovery of a body at the bottom of an old mine shaft.  CCTV footage shows that the young man apparently committed suicide, but what drove him to such a deed?  For DI Trevithick a disturbing encounter with a young woman who seemingly had been driven to psychosis by her exposure to these rituals puts her on the trail of a frightening young man, who is experimenting with dangerous ritual magic to achieve his ends.  But just how far will he go?

While the two stories are being told separately, the book is an interesting read, very fast paced and full of action.  The stories are intriguing and I found I wanted to read on to find out what would happen.  Also, importantly for me, although fairly gory, it was not nearly as bad as the ‘Genesis Secret’.  But  I found the huge secret that Victor Sassoon was prepared to die for rather than unleash on the world a bit of a damp squib; not something most religious folks would get that riled up about to be quite honest.  The book then changes tack bringing the two stories together back in Cornwall in rather an unbelievable way.  For me the ending was a disappointment and a bit fuzzy around the edges.

As most book review sites have a ratings system, I’ve decided to introduce the sandwich rating and from now on will rate books from one (awful book) to five (awesome book) sandwiches.  I’m going to award ‘The Deceit’ by Tom Knox Three Sandwiches.  It was an interesting, thrilling read, but it petered out a bit in the last third and I thought that the ending was a bit lame and unbelievable. I know that in this type of novel nothing is ever really believable, but the really good thrillers can carry you away and let you suspend your belief as you get immersed in the story.  This book, however, is not one of those, but is still worth having a read of.

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