While probing the murder of her missionary boyfriend in Ethiopia, rookie State Department lawyer Jaqueline Quartermane discovers a strange word square in an underground church. Teaming up with the elusive Elymas she follows the ancient clues to Rome, Nova Scotia and Sumatra. Running alongside the main story is a much older one – in 1452, a group of young men (including Christopher Columbus) set out on a mission to protect ancient secrets but soon find themselves facing a conspiracy that aims to rid the world of Jews, heretics and non-believers.
The novel reminded me a lot of Dan Brown’s ‘The Da Vinci Code’ and there were similarities in the way the would-be code-breakers tracked the clues. The plot was clever and well constructed, and occasionally hard to follow, though the switching between the two stories worked well. I was initially drawn to the two main characters, particularly the wonderfully mysterious Elymas, but after a while, I did find Jaq Quartermane a little irritating. In the author’s favour, the depth of research gives the historical aspects a healthy spoonful of kudos and the attention to detail is commendable. But while I have to admire the storytelling, as in Mr Brown’s case, it all felt just a tad far-fetched.
A clever, complicated and thought-provoking novel – if you like conspiracy theories and Indiana Jones-type adventures, this’ll go down a treat.