Thursday, August 28, 2008

"The Final Reckoning", by Sam Bourne (Harper Collins)

"The Biggest Challenge to Dan Brown's Crown"? Nope. This is so much better!

Just a quick review, here: This was my first Sam Bourne novel, having put off reading his others because of the constant references to Dan Brown (yes, I know, I did the same, above...). In The Final Reckoning, however, after a slightly slow beginning, I found myself hooked to one of the best books I've read all year (much to the annoyance of my girlfriend, who I was visiting at the time). Its two gripping storylines - one set in present day London and New York, and another set during the Holocaust - mesh perfectly, if rather darkly (the details of life in the Lithuanian ghettos will stay with you, for sure).

Following an accidental shooting at the UN building in New York, some-time disillusioned UN lawyer, current mob-lawyer Tom Byrne is hired to solve the riddle of why the old man was confused with a terrorist. Thrown into the middle of a conspiracy that has spanned over 60 years, Byrne and the daughter of the victim, Rebecca, unearth some truly frightening truths about certain men in very high, influential places.

Very well written, combining strong dialogue and just the right amount of exposition, Sam Bourne has created a book that should appeal to everyone who wants intrigue, globetrotting, and red-herrings to keep you guessing (I actually guessed the ending, but Bourne threw me two major red-herrings that almost made me second-guess myself, the crafty so-and-so). The Final Reckoning blends fact and fiction wonderfully (the author's note at the end of the book is equally surprising).

Sure, Sam Bourne is probably going to be lazily compared to Dan Brown for a good portion of his career, though it is wholly unwarrented. Exciting, gripping and near-impossible to put down, The Final Reckoning is perfect summer-reading, but will also keep you entertained on those cold winter nights. If you want a good thriller with quality historical detail, a gripping narrative and characters you will care about... well, get this. I'm going to go buy his other books, now.

For fans of: Andrew Grosse, Matthew Reilly, James Twining, Daniel Silva, James Rollins

Tuesday, August 05, 2008

"Six Sacred Stones", by Matthew Reilly (Pan)

Buckle up for the sequel to The Seven Ancient Wonders!

Reuniting us once again with Jack West Jr. (retired Australian Special Forces, with a metal arm) and his friends and allies from the previous novel, we are taken on yet another globetrotting adventure romp with archaeological and apocalyptic themes. After a secret ceremony undoes their work from the previous novel, Jack and his fellow adventurers are set on another mission, with time once again running out!
Shaped around a quest to find the stones of the title, and get them to significant, hidden sites to stave of the apocalypse, the novel takes us all over the world as Jack and Co. battle against time, well-armed and ill-intentioned enemies, and traitors in their midst. A lot of thought and research has gone into this book - from information about the sites visited to history (sure, Reilly's used artistic license to alter history to his needs, but he's allowed to, so stop complaining - this is meant to be fun!).
Some people might be inclined to give this a miss, given it's rather... esoteric premise, but I guarantee if you like Indiana Jones, James Bond, The Mummy movies, or any other adventure story, then you will thoroughly enjoy Matthew Reilly's novels. The pace never lets up: the 567 pages whizz by, leaving you rather breathless and hankering for more (the third book in the series is on its way).
With an excrutiating cliff-hanger at the end, there is little doubt that you'll be eagerly waiting for the forthcoming exploits of this driven group of adventurers.
Great fun, very well written, this is pure unadulterated entertainment. Just as it should be.