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Some regular crime/thriller readers may be familiar with the writer Peter James, who has written the highly successful Detective Inspector Roy Grace series. Occasionally though he branches out and writes the odd unrelated book and hence there's this relatively small book, Prophecy.
The back of the book itself is probably enough to draw readers in, even if they don't know its James. The blurb isn't always interesting but this one?
Non Omnis Moriar
I shall not altogether die.
A young man watches his mother die. Drunken students play with a Ouija board in a damp cellar. A sadistic man dies in agony. Can bricks and mortar retain imprints of the emotions experienced within them?
Well that, and the fact that Asda are currently selling it for a £1 meant it soon made its way into my basket.
We start at the beginning and I mean right at the beginning, a Prologue set in 1652, a chapter full of Satanism, satanic paedophiles and bad Lords who meet rather gruesome ends. It's very Herbert in its tone and language, and to be honest, rather delicious!
The rest of the book concerns Frannie, the daughter of Italian immigrants, who is a research assistant at the British Museum. Your typical 30ish singleton, she has a chance encounter on a train station and as they say, things will never seem the same.
Believe it or not I haven't really addressed the plot! Frannie and Ollie's relationship starts on a co-incidence, co-incidence features heavily throughout the book. Their relationship gathers apace despite tragedies occurring around her friends who took part in the Ouija board session and somehow Ollie's son Edward is involved, and of course the blood and guts and severed limbs soon mount up!
It's a great plot, very James Herbert but without the Nazi's! The plot is credible, there's twists and turns but it all adds up nice and neatly. There's no huge leaps of imagination needed to add the entire plot together which also shows a competent seasoned writer. It's not a hugely original story, but by Lordy its fun!
Frannie is a 'real' person. That is to say we all know someone like her, we've met people like her, so it's not too difficult to imagine how she would act and behave.
And she does behave like that impeccably well, it's never nice to see someone being broken down because of the events around her and you just want to give her a verbal kick up the arse when her relationship with Oliver is evolving and they begin to realise that their paths have already crossed quite a few times. Frannie is the heroine of course, but does it all come good for her?
Oliver aka Lord Sherfield. A widower with one son he doesn't happen to redeem himself at all in the story. Strangely I wouldn't be too impressed if on our second date he just happens to take me to his mansion, not mentioning he was a Lord and dropping me right in it! And I can imagine a father becoming very protective over his son but when he appears to be the son of Satan and weird things sort happening you'd think he might take the blindfold off try and help his son. I just thoroughly disliked him and dismissed him as very weak. But looking back on it I wonder if he actually has a touch of his not very salubrious ancestors!
Edward is Oliver's son and appears to be slightly odd; he certainly seems to be around when things go wrong. He's not a very child, and his nice moments are probably a lot more sinister then when he's trying to hang the dog! Edward is very well written though, it would have been very easy for James to just copy the character of Damien from the Omen but he manages to avoid this and give him a character of his own.
There are several other characters Susie, Seb, Phoebe and others who took part in the Ouija board session, as they meet some interesting grisly tragedies along the way it would have been easy to gloss quickly over, but particularly the above three are an in-depth character, that's to say you know all about their lives, loves and who they are. This leads you to actually care about the victims and what happens to them, you know what's coming but you do have a faint hope that all will be resolved before something happens!
Fannies' parents are great, again we've met people like them, immigrants who just want to get on in life and make a success of their lives. I can't tell you too much about Penrose her co-worker as I'd like, but blimey he's funny and thoroughly necessary!
It's a great cast of characters, not one is but in their just for the sake of convenience and to join the story together but they all have their part to play.
In summary I love this book, it's a real change from his thriller novels and a great suspense/horror story, thankfully it's not the only one he's done. It's just fun to read and suspends reality for a while. Well I say suspends reality... James really looks into the notion of co-incidences in the novel and just how weird and strange they actually can be, not to mention just how dangerous...
Non Omnis Moriar, which translates as "I shall not altogether die." These words are at the centre of this thriller written by Peter James.
A young boy watches his mother die in a truly horrific accident. Drunk students mess around with a Ouija board in a dark cellar. A sadistic man dies in agony.
Frannie couldn't be happier when a chance meeting at a train station leads to romance. The fact that her new relationship seems marred by tragedies, she dismissess as coincidence. Feeling happy and in love, Frannie is somewhat blinded to the often gruesome accidents that are happening around her. Eventually however, she is forced to face the reality that these tragedies appear to be linked and that she herself is somehow connected.
As Frannie begins to look into the past she makes a shocking discovery and wonders if bricks and mortar can retain imprints of the emotions that have been experienced within them?
Prophecy, is the second book I have read by thriller writer Peter James, an author I discovered only a few weeks ago when a friend gave me a copy of another of his books : 'Twilight' to read. I enjoyed is so much, it left me keen to read more of his work which has been likened to Stephen King and Michael Crichton.
When I read 'Twilight' a few weeks ago, I was quickly drawn into the story from the first page, becoming absorbed in a well written thriller, with a touch of both horror and mystery. So when I began reading 'Prophecy' I was hopeful of more of the same. And I wasn't disappointed!
Peter James has written another great thriller which gripped me from the beginning and I found it really difficult to put down. Once again his writing flows really well, page after page, as this story of a new relationship dogged by strange and unexplainable coincidences, unfolds into a menacing and at times horrific tale of tragedy.
Frannie is happy and in love. Her chance meeting with widower Oliver and his young son Edward on a railway platform has lead to a new relationship and Frannie can't believe her luck at the way in which it all happens.
But is it luck? Or is it fate? Frannie doesn't care as she is happier than she has been in ages. Oliver's young son Edward is more than happy to have her around and her future is looking promising again.
Right away, the reader gets a sense of 'all is not what it seems' here and due to the ingenious plot writing, I quickly found myself intrigued by Frannie, Oliver and Edward.
These three characters are well developed by James and I particularly enjoyed the way the characters of Oliver and Edward are slowly revealed over the course of the book, making the reader ask questions and form opinions about them, only to then wonder if you are wrong.
Edward seems to be quite a troubled child and Frannie finds his behaviour at times quite disturbing. One minute he is a friendly, talkative child, but then as quick as a flash he can become quiet and aloof. His cheery smile replaced by as troubled, intense expression. And why does he sometime lapse into talking Latin?
I found Edward totally intriguing. His Jekyll and Hyde character is brilliantly developed, which makes for fascinating reading.
His father Oliver at first seems ignorant of the changes in his son. Oliver has tried his best to be both mother and father to his son whilst himself grieving over the loss of his wife. Is he really blind to his son's odd behaviour or does he choose to ignore it? Frannie isn't sure, but is mindful of how to approach discussing her thoughts with Oliver and so tries to dismiss it herself.
I did find myself wondering why Oliver is so appealing to Frannie, as he comes across as rather boring and also what seems to be his oblivion to Edward's behaviour, I found annoying, until I found myself thinking maybe he actually knew more than he was letting on.
When tragic events can no longer be passed off as coincidences, Frannie is forced to question what is happening and look into the past, which throws up more than a few surprises.
The pace really picks up here, as I found I couldn't guess exactly how or why things were happening as they were and had no idea how it would end, which is a good thing for me, as I personally love to read a book which keeps you guessing until the end.
Indeed I was not prepared at all for how the story would pan out and was quite surprised to discover that I was often wrong in regards to the few thoughts I had about the main characters.
I became quite fearful for Frannie and at times felt a little frustrated by her character, who I felt couldn't see the woods for the trees at times, but this just added to the suspense.
I found I was putting myself in her shoes on more than one occasion and thinking I wouldn't have done what she did, or I wouldn't have said what she said, but it is all part of what makes this such a good read. The suspense builds to almost menacing proportions and I found myself racing through the pages, eager to find out what would happen next.
Prophecy really captured my imagination. It is a fascinating read which dabbles in the supernatural and keeps you guessing until the end, which also leaves the reader with a little twist, just to keep you thinking for a while after you have turned the last page.
This is another great read from Peter James and I highly recommend it if you enjoy a good thriller.