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Yet again, this started out as another book that had been compared to the Da Vinci Code. How long will it be before Dan Brown's bandwagon gets a flat tyre? Surely having to carry the weight of supporting all those spin offs in Mr Brown's wake will stop the ride soon? This book, The Stonehenge Legacy by Sam Christer, even had a sticker on the front saying "Perfect for fans of Dan Brown". So, it was with a sense of the unmet expectations to come that I started to read it. Is it just another churned out poolside paperback with the smell of Dan Brownesque copy-cat oozing from the pages, or is there enough about the book to pass it off as half decent in its own right? I'll let you know below.
Gideon Chase is told that his estranged father, an important scholar and wealthy man, has shot himself in an act of suicide. Gideon visits his father's house, and armed with a cryptic note left for him he starts to unravel some mysterious secrets in which his father was heavily involved. The secrets centre around Stonehenge, and he uncovers a cult whose attraction to the stones involves some serious crimes being comitted. Can Gideon prove the cult's existence and their illegal activities to the police or will he be silenced before he can blow the whistle? I'm not going to tell you - read the book and find out for yourself!
Considering my preconceptions about the quality of the story before I began reading it, I have to say I was pleasantly surprised by how good it turned out to be. Like the saying goes - never judge a book by the sticker on the front comparing it to a Dan Brown book.
The story led me up more alleyways than there are in the opening credits to Coronation Street and had more twists and turns than that new rollercoaster at Alton Towers. I enjoyed the way that the author included lots of events for me to try and guess / predict the outcomes of - I didn't get any of the outcomes right! For example, he doesn't reveal straight away the content of the video message left by Gideon's mother, nor does he reveal the location of the cult's underground sanctuary until quite late on.
As for the Dan Brown comparisons which have been made about the book, I would say they are quite tenuous. Yes, there is a religious based secret society in the plot and yes both books are printed on paper, but I reckon that the publisher's attempts to sell more copies of the Stonehenge Legacy by plastering the cover with the words "Dan Brown" does a disservice to Sam Christer. I thought the book was good enough on it's own without the need for a metaphorical Dan Brown crutch.
If you like fairly fast paced thriller / mysteries about secret cults with dark ulterior motives, then I would recommend this book to you. I enjoyed it very much, five stars from me.
Review of The Stonehenge Legacy, a novel by Sam Christer
I am reviewing the paperback version of this novel, published by Sphere in 2011, 496 pages, ISBN 978-0751545180, cover price £6.99, genre Crime/Thriller.
The story opens eight days before the summer solstice. A terrified young man is butchered in a horrific sacrificial ceremony on the ancient site of Stonehenge before a congregation of robed worshippers. Within hours, one of the world's foremost archaeologists and treasure hunters, Nathaniel Chase, has shot himself in his country mansion.
Nathaniel is estranged from his only child, his son, Gideon. Gideon Chase has followed in his father's footsteps and is an eminent archaeologist in his own right. When he learns of his father's suicide, Gideon makes his way to Wiltshire where he learns that his father has left him his entire estate and a cryptic letter.
Local Police Detective Megan Baker is working on the case of a missing person and is also given the task of finding out why Mr Chase senior committed suicide. Megan's own life is in turmoil as she struggles to juggle a career with caring for her little girl. She is separated from her husband, Adam, who is also in the police force.
When Gideon arrives at his father's home, he discovers the rear door of the mansion is open; he rings the police as security at the house is generally very tight. Against advice, he enters the house only find a man about to set light to the curtains in his father's study. Gideon quickly snaps a picture of the man with his mobile phone and then locks the study door, so trapping the intruder in the room. He realises that he could well be condemning the intruder to death, so opens the door. As he does, he is violently struck and knocked over; the man makes his escape, narrowly avoiding the arrival of the Police.
Meanwhile, wealthy Caitlyn Lock, the daughter of the Vice President of America meets up with playboy Jake Timberland. Caitlyn is a celebrity in her own right having won first place in an American reality T.V. show. She is now in London studying and her father has organised somewhat intrusive security for his daughter, however Caitlyn and Jake manage to give Caitlyn's body guards the slip, in order to enjoy a romantic tryst in a campervan at Stonehenge.
As events unfold, thanks to memories from his childhood and the help of a code his father devised, Gideon soon exposes his father's secrets with catastrophic results that find him fighting for his life and that of Caitlyn Lock.
My Thoughts and Conclusion
I obtained this book via book swapping circle I belong to in my home town. The lady I received this book from, kindly gave me a huge carrier bag full of novels and I have been working my way through them. This particular novel attracted my attention as I have always been fascinated by Stonehenge and similar places.
The author was unknown to me so I came to the novel with no preconceived expectations. A sticker on the front cover declares that this book would appeal to fans of Dan Brown, I cannot truly concur with this as although the genre is the same, I feel Brown's work is far more gripping.
I found the plot to be reasonably well paced and the storyline fresh and consistent with the genre. I enjoyed the novel and as is my want, read it in two sittings. That said, I have to say that I found the style of writing rather strange. The novel is presented in five parts, spreading over a period of around a week. This in itself is not a problem, what I found unusual was that the actual writing style seemed to alter between parts. Some was written in the third person, some more diary -like and I found it a little disconcerting to switch between the styles.
I also considered the characters should have been more developed. I felt the central characters, Gideon Chase, Caitlyn Lock and Megan Baker could have been far better-rounded and I didn't really feel any great connections or even interest in any of them. I feel this was a pity as the actual storyline is a very powerful and gripping one which deserved stronger characters.
Overall, I enjoyed this novel and am awarding it a 4* rating.
Thank you for reading.
©brittle1906 October 2012
N.B. My reviews may be found on other sites under the same user name.