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by Tom Knox

Pub Date: May 7th, 2013
ISBN: 978-0-670-02664-7
Publisher: Viking

Another thriller about the Knights Templar results in a disappointing and amateurish effort to emulate a best-selling novel.

It’s a hair-whipping race to figure out who the bad guys are and what they’re really after in Knox’s (The Lost Goddess, 2012, etc.) latest offering. Anthropologist Jessica Silverton is a member of an archaeological team in Peru studying the Moche, a pre-Columbian civilization. She’s convinced the murals and other artifacts depicting violence, carnage and erotic activities actually occurred, but she wants to discover the underlying cause and is skeptical when her boss (and lover) believes the behavior was probably caused by el Niño. Across the ocean, investigative reporter Adam Blackwood watches in horror as noted historian Archibald McLintock ends his life in a fiery car crash outside Rosslyn Chapel, a Scottish tourist attraction associated with the Knights Templar and popularized by Dan Brown’s The Da Vinci Code. But McLintock’s daughter, Nina, refuses to believe her father committed suicide and convinces Adam to help her uncover the truth. Armed with a bag of her father’s old receipts, the two track his last movements among Templar sites in Western Europe, where they discover one of her father’s secrets. Meanwhile, Detective Mark Ibsen is tasked with investigating a series of gruesome autoerotic deaths in London, and what he uncovers is pretty far-fetched. He crosses paths with Adam and Nina after a horrific attack, and they share what they know. Told in short cliffhanging chapters, the story becomes more convoluted with each chapter as the author adds layer upon ridiculous layer to the mix. The characters experience repeated flashbacks about their lives; countless feelings of ominous foreboding; lots of menacing looks from tattoo-sporting men associated with drug cartels; liberal doses of gory murders; and endless encyclopedic information to explain every supposition or twist. When the heroes finally assemble for a boat trip on the Amazon (except for Ibsen, who wisely chooses to participate by phone) to put together the final piece of the puzzle, don't get too excited: The trip takes forever.

Knox begins with an interesting premise, which he first attacks with enthusiasm; unfortunately, he drags the story out well beyond tolerable limits and literally stomps it to death.