Former British television writer, producer and director Toyne cranks up the drama with the second entry in a conspiracy thriller series.
Taking up where the first volume (Sanctus, 2011) left off, New Jersey news reporter Liv Adamsen awakens to find herself hospitalized in the small Turkish town of Ruin. Liv is not alone: Kathryn Mann and a monk from the Citadel are also recovering from injuries sustained when fleeing the mysterious fortress. However, there are forces at hand determined to destroy all three, and that is something Kathryn’s son, Gabriel, cannot allow to happen. Gabriel helps Liv escape and find her way back home to the U.S., then begins to look for a way to return to the Citadel, which is now seemingly under assault from nature itself. Blighted trees and a dying garden have spread their disease to the humans who occupy the Catholic fortress, and no one knows how to stop what appears to be an impending worldwide catastrophe. As the Vatican’s moneyman, Cardinal Secretary Clementi, plots to eliminate Liv and her co-conspirators, Gabriel forges an alliance to help fend off what appears to be the realization of the End of Days. As he battles to save Liv from a terrible fate, Gabriel finds that one of the most important events of his life was a lie and that allies exist in places he would never have suspected. Toyne's first novel, Sanctus, set up the story of the Citadel and the mysterious thing it guards. Well-written, fast-paced and delivered with an admirable economy of words, this book offers an edge-of-the-seat story filled with action and adventure, as well as a puzzle that the main characters must somehow put together before the world simply disappears. If the book has a flaw, it’s that it doesn’t stand alone, and readers who have not progressed from the first book to the second will spend the first half trying to figure out what’s happening.
Reading the initial book in the series first makes this taut thriller much more satisfying.