I'll start by saying that after reading The Cobra and Scarab: A Novel of Ancient Egypt which I received from this author, I was more than interested to find out IF I would enjoy this book as much as I loved the above mentioned title. Well, as I never mentioned to the author that I had bought this one, I can now categorically state that it was brilliant. I don't know what it is about Glenn Starkey, but again, the story telling, the vivid descriptions of everything and anything are just amazing including the extraordinary ride you are taken on. Suspense? Plenty. Intrigue? Bucket loads. Thrilling? For sure! Does the story touch you, do the characters grab you? You bet your sweet patootie! This author has fast become one of my favourites - no doubt about it.
The story begins in the year 1306, France, where on the steps of the Templar Cathedral, Knights of the Order stand silent keeping vigil. A huge burden lays upon the shoulders of the Knights of the Temple of Solomon. King Phillip the Fair seeks to eradicate them. The Grand Master DeMolay announces that they will be victorious and proven innocent of all charges and vows that the King of France will never touch their true treasure. The true burial Shroud of Jesus must be protected at all costs. He forges a plan and produces a replica. Solomon of Avorone's courage and wisdom has been worthy and for the sake of the Order, he is asked if he will accept his highest responsibility. He's asked by DeMolay to select twenty Knights, including himself. DeMolay further reveals that on this very night, they will form a new Order, secret and separate from theirs, to serve only God and also to protect the Burial Shroud. Nobody besides them is to ever know where they will be. Upon the slicing of a cross patee upon their chests they are sworn to serve Him and forever protect the Holy Shroud that they hold.
Greg Valdez, an arts thief is commissioned to steal an artifact from a Portuguese Monastery. The pay is good and Greg is very good at what he does. He's had a somewhat shady past but also quite a bit of training. He doesn't steal for the simple fact of stealing and making money, in some cases lots of money, he primarily works for some major insurance companies and 'steals' or acquires previously stolen art which is returned to their rightful owner. Except in this case of course. As soon as Greg 'acquires' the artifact, he starts to realise that something is not quite right and more is at play here. He has his son Daniel to think about who unfortunately suffers from Autism and presently resides in an institution; and so with the pouch in his possession Greg makes his escape.
Now we are in Tomar, Portugal 1997 and the story picks up it's pace even more when it comes to the Monastery's alert that the Burial Shroud has been stolen. The Order's team is sent after the culprit and we come to know them as the Hunters. We are now positioned between Greg with the artifact in his possession, the Hunters hunting for the culprit, Daniel sitting at Lakeland Estate in Dallas, Texas whom Greg is anxious to take away so that they can start a new life and of course a man by the name of Cain who only sees money as power and was the one to commission the artifact. I really don't want to say anymore regarding the story - too much will be a spoiler. I will tell you though that I felt as if I was right there wanting to help in what needed to be done.
Mr. Starkey has used his knowledge of Vietnam (being a Vietnam Veteran), former Marine Corps Sergeant and Texas Law enforcement officer in relation to weapons and descriptions to tactical and recon strategies including the training that all these men have had. The author also manages to mold his characters into people I would love to meet in person like Tobias Whitworth (a true friend), Ben Blackhorse and Fred Blackhorse. I love the Indian culture, beliefs and mysticism that encompass who Ben and Fred are including their humour. Simply loved them - they seem so wise. So much is woven into this story without one thinking, okay, I've read that before. Well, I certainly haven't. It's all perfectly correlated, it's fabulous and it makes you think about a lot of things. Don't you just love a story that has everything in it except the kitchen sink, yet it's not the least bit cluttered, but wonderfully enlightening and clear? Well, here's another one for you. I tip my hat off to you once again Mr. Starkey, you catapulted me in a completely different direction, yet one that still sent me on a chilling, suspenseful and heart warming journey full of twists and turns and may I add, a miracle or two. Add the fact that I learnt a few more things regarding history I can only but highly recommend this book. It deserves a 5 star rating.
One of my favourite quotes
"Dying is easy, Joseph. Living, especially living with our past, is the true challenge."RATING: 5 STARS