An entertaining, if unpolished, old-school adventure with deep philosophical roots.

In this first novel from self-help and spiritual nonfiction author Harrison (We Are All One, 2015, etc.), a young married couple’s European getaway turns into a perilous hunt for a mystical relic.

Alex and Sara experience a series of difficulties during an economic downturn: Alex has a seizure, Sara miscarries twins, and Alex’s mother dies from cancer. Alex’s spunky grandmother Lucette offers to send them both to the French countryside for some rest and relaxation. All she asks is that the couple say hello to her old friend Jean-Michel while they’re in town. Jean-Michel turns out to be more than the eccentric recluse that Alex and Sara initially take him to be. He soon draws the pair into an ancient drama surrounding a mysterious, golden scallop shell that just might hold the key to global salvation. The adventure that follows draws on a dizzying array of mythologies, bits of world history, and threads of esoteric Christianity, beginning with the fall of Atlantis and ending with a terrifying, powerful neo-Nazi cult that the protagonists must thwart. Guided by Jean-Michel’s metaphysical teachings, Alex and Sara learn to set aside their skepticism and “recognise, realise and actualise [their] divine inheritance.” The narrative bounces back and forth between fast-paced action sequences and dense blocks of exposition, most of which involve Jean-Michel filling in Alex and Sara about the shell’s intricate back story. The result is reminiscent of a classic Indiana Jones adventure, with the requisite close shaves, Hollywood-style mysticism, and especially villainous villains. However, the book’s clunky pacing hinders its riff on a familiar form. One section of exposition, for example, stretches on for almost 50 pages, stopping the story in its tracks. At other times, the narrative races implausibly quickly, with events hinging on abrupt changes of heart or too-convenient coincidences. Overwrought sentences also drag the action down: “ ‘Exactly my dear,’ Lucette affirmed in a supportive and positive manner, patting Sara on the knee as she spoke.” Still, fans of Dan Brown–style pseudo-academic adventures may overlook these drawbacks, and those readers will be glad to discover the heartfelt, timely messages of peace, tolerance, and environmental responsibility that Harrison weaves into Alex and Sara’s journey.

An entertaining, if unpolished, old-school adventure with deep philosophical roots.

Pub Date: Feb. 26, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-78535-246-1

Page Count: 264

Publisher: Roundfire Books

Review Posted Online: Dec. 16, 2015


Forget about solving all these crimes; the signal triumph here is (spoiler) the heroine’s survival.

Another sweltering month in Charlotte, another boatload of mysteries past and present for overworked, overstressed forensic anthropologist Temperance Brennan.

A week after the night she chases but fails to catch a mysterious trespasser outside her town house, some unknown party texts Tempe four images of a corpse that looks as if it’s been chewed by wild hogs, because it has been. Showboat Medical Examiner Margot Heavner makes it clear that, breaking with her department’s earlier practice (The Bone Collection, 2016, etc.), she has no intention of calling in Tempe as a consultant and promptly identifies the faceless body herself as that of a young Asian man. Nettled by several errors in Heavner’s analysis, and even more by her willingness to share the gory details at a press conference, Tempe launches her own investigation, which is not so much off the books as against the books. Heavner isn’t exactly mollified when Tempe, aided by retired police detective Skinny Slidell and a host of experts, puts a name to the dead man. But the hints of other crimes Tempe’s identification uncovers, particularly crimes against children, spur her on to redouble her efforts despite the new M.E.’s splenetic outbursts. Before he died, it seems, Felix Vodyanov was linked to a passenger ferry that sank in 1994, an even earlier U.S. government project to research biological agents that could control human behavior, the hinky spiritual retreat Sparkling Waters, the dark web site DeepUnder, and the disappearances of at least four schoolchildren, two of whom have also turned up dead. And why on earth was Vodyanov carrying Tempe’s own contact information? The mounting evidence of ever more and ever worse skulduggery will pull Tempe deeper and deeper down what even she sees as a rabbit hole before she confronts a ringleader implicated in “Drugs. Fraud. Breaking and entering. Arson. Kidnapping. How does attempted murder sound?”

Forget about solving all these crimes; the signal triumph here is (spoiler) the heroine’s survival.

Pub Date: March 17, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-9821-3888-2

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Scribner

Review Posted Online: Dec. 22, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2020


As in summer movies, a triple dose of violence conceals the absence of real menace when neither victims nor avengers stir...

Dr. Alex Cross has left Metro DC Homicide for the FBI, but it’s business as usual in this laughably rough-hewn fairy tale of modern-day white slavery.

According to reliable sources, more people are being sold into slavery than ever before, and it all seems to be going down on the FBI’s watch. Atlanta ex-reporter Elizabeth Connolly, who looks just like Claudia Schiffer, is the ninth target over the past two years to be abducted by a husband-and-wife pair who travel the country at the behest of the nefarious Pasha Sorokin, the Wolf of the Red Mafiya. The only clues are those deliberately left behind by the kidnappers, who snatch fashion designer Audrey Meek from the King of Prussia Mall in full view of her children, or patrons like Audrey’s purchaser, who ends up releasing her and killing himself. Who you gonna call? Alex Cross, of course. Even though he still hasn’t finished the Agency’s training course, all the higher-ups he runs into, from hardcases who trust him to lickspittles seething with envy, have obviously read his dossier (Four Blind Mice, 2002, etc.), and they know the new guy is “close to psychic,” a “one-man flying squad” who’s already a legend, “like Clarice Starling in the movies.” It’s lucky that Cross’s reputation precedes him, because his fond creator doesn’t give him much to do here but chase suspects identified by obliging tipsters and worry about his family (Alex Jr.’s mother, alarmed at Cross’s dangerous job, is suing for custody) while the Wolf and his cronies—Sterling, Mr. Potter, the Art Director, Sphinx, and the Marvel—kidnap more dishy women (and the occasional gay man) and kill everybody who gets in their way, and quite a few poor souls who don’t.

As in summer movies, a triple dose of violence conceals the absence of real menace when neither victims nor avengers stir the slightest sympathy.

Pub Date: Nov. 5, 2003

ISBN: 0-316-60290-6

Page Count: 400

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2003

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