Death's Door is the ninth Special X novel featuring a branch of the RCMP who deal exclusively with cases that have an external link outside Canadian borders. Readers of my reviews and fans of this series will know by now that Michael Slade is actually a nom-de-pleurre and that the series is written by a Canadian Lawyer and his daughter. These books also often heavily feature a link to historical events and so are often chock-heavy with reference and background material. Death's Door is no exception taking a long and factual look at the history of mummification, Egyptology and the age-old search for the secret of eternal youth all wrapped up in a highly clever and well written thriller.
A priceless mummified artifact is stolen from London in a cleverly concieved heist that leaves authorities scratching their heads. This mummy then turns up at Canadian Customs and Immigration when it is smuggled into the country. An attempt to examine it further is thwarted when two Customs Officials are murdered and the mummy spirited away. This prompts the intrest of Chief Superintendant Robert De Clerq, his Special X division and some old and familiar faces. Especially when more bodies turn up, washed onto Canadian shores and surgically disfigured. Before the case is over, all manner of avenues will be investigated including a ring of hard-core pornography and Snuff film producers and the end result is the possible return of a master villan Special X may well have encountered at least once before....
This another book that features heavily the characters of Robert De Clerq, Nick Craven, American deputy Jenna Bond and pathologist, Gill Macbeth. The love triangle between De Clerq, Craven and Macbeth is once more brought to the fore though there is a real sense this time that a sense of closure is finallly being reached. I do think the return of one paticular character is a little bit disappointing and smacks a tad of Slade perhaps running a bit dry in the ideas bank, but the whole theme is supposed to represent a modern-day spin on the Holmes-Moriaty relationship and, as a homage, I suppose it kind of works though I was never a fan of Conan Doyle so some of the reference may well go over my head. Certainly this is not the best of the Special X books and though it is good to revisit familiar characters, the plot never reallly caught my attentions the way some of the previous books had done. I'd like to say this series is going from strength to strength but the truth is it tends to alternate between one really good novel and one slightly inferior with every new entry. This is one of the more average of Slade's thrillers and, whilst still good, is never really edge-of-the-seat stuff and the heroine-in-peril plot has been used before to greater effect. Another thing I found annoying also was Slade's constant and increasingly unsubtle use of the phrase "Bed Of Nails." This might meann nothing to some people until I point out that this is the title of the next book in the series and so smacks of self-promotion and attempted subliminal advertising. If I decide to read the next novel, I would prefer to do it off my own back not because I have been coerced to by the author and this is an unclever move that could well alienate fans at a time when the author's writing has begun to lose some of the potential it showed in the early days. Maybe it is a coincidence but the phrase is used at least three times that I counted and, as someone famous is quoted as once saying, "there is no such thing as coincidence!"
One strictly for the fans then as new-comers to this series may well be put off by this latest novel.....good but not as good as the earlier books in the series!