Once again, suspense pro Campbell (Silent Children, 2000, etc.) remains masterfully amusing and intriguing—until his final pages.
Smart dialogue and warm family detail suck the reader willingly in. Young heroine Daniella Logan, 20, is daughter of film producer Teddy Logan, an American in England who, along with his partner Alan Stanley, runs Oxford Films. Teddy has a row of Oscars for his later films, though he began with horror flicks before turning to “uplift.” Daniella, a psychology student, faces the sudden shock of her father’s death in an automobile accident, plus the fact that she may inherit his half of Oxford Films when she comes of age at 22—and that Teddy has made some very bad financial moves that may cost her and other possible inheritors (should she die prematurely) possession of the studio. The day he died, her father opened his safe and gave her some money, at which time she spied a strange box—a box that now has vanished, as has a special book behind his desk, The Bible Decoded. Nancy Drew–like, Daniella searches for the lost box and book and then finds out that a number of deaths turn on some gleaming knives, one of which she finds buried on her father’s grave—where, moreover, she also found a circle of robed strangers performing some kind of ceremony. As it happens, the title and jacket give away the story’s main secret: that several big business magnates the likes of Teddy and others belong to a bloody group that believes the Bible has told them that they will ensure success if they sacrifice their first-born—with knives, if necessary, and on an altar, although some first-borns die in other ways. Since we already deduce most of this, the plot attenuates into tissue-thin melodrama in the last chapters.
Still, Campbell’s fans will find much to their taste—and Daniella immensely likable.