In this sprawling international thriller, an ancient secret society seeks domination over Western governments.
At the start of Tucker’s blandly titled but brilliantly executed debut, British Prime Minister James Moore goes missing while horseback riding. He’d entered office on a wave of popularity, but parliamentary frustrations caused the public to nickname him Dismal Jimmy, “a political disaster, stumbling from one crisis to another, while his government scrambled to complete its first full term in office.” Scotland Yard naturally treats his disappearance as a potential kidnapping and calls in Dr. Hanson Shaw, one of their former investigators. He’d left their ranks for the private sector after resolving several investigations with uncanny speed and skill. Unbeknownst to his former colleagues, Hanson used to have preternatural insights (“spontaneous spells of contemplative abstraction”) during his migraine attacks, and this new crisis has reawakened his weird abilities: “Visions were once again invading his mind, breathing life into a subconscious inner awareness he thought was lost forever.” Shaw teams up with Cate Brocklehurst, a research associate of his old mentor, former Oxford don Winston Elliott, and they begin sifting through clues involving a medieval secret society called the Lions of Jerusalem. Their investigation eventually leads them to sinister billionaire (and eminently hissable villain) Edward Cheyne, who intones such Bond-villain lines as “Change is coming.” It turns out that he’s funding a clandestine terrorist agenda that reaches far beyond the kidnapping of one British head of state. With an amazingly assured narrative style, Tucker takes readers from the machinations of his nefarious, multicultural bad guys to the dogged sleuthing of Shaw and his allies, punctuated by vivid descriptions of Shaw’s painful attacks and incredible deductive visions. Before long, the plot expands to a global scale involving the Syrians, the Americans, and al-Qaida and half a dozen other volatile groups. Tucker handles it all with extremely lively pacing and frequent glints of Shaw’s wry outlook on life. As long as this book is, readers will likely wish it were longer.
A truly impressive thriller debut in the vein of Dan Brown’s The Da Vinci Code.