James Becker is back with his third novel in this fast-paced thriller series that focuses on the Knights Templar. While much has been written about the subject, Becker is able to keep a great pace and use an array of characters to bring the story to life. David Mallory and Robin Jessop have made it back to England, after some harrowing experiences in Cypress and Switzerland, tailed by a group of Dominicans, who want them dead and possession of the Templar secrets. Having smuggled a chest that once belonged to the Templars off the continent, Mallory and Jessop begin the slow and pain-staking process of searching for clues to continue their journey. A script of sorts appears on the chest, though it is not immediately apparent what it means or how it might be translated. Back in Rome, those within the Vatican have a vested interest in this chest and the riches that may await anyone able to decipher the coded text. Choosing first to bug Jessop’s flat and eventually beginning a full-scale game of cat and mouse, the Dominicans are sent to scrub out the likes of Mallory and Jessop without asking questions. When a possible message emerges, Mallory takes the lead and they flee for another part of the British Isles, looking to properly interpret a message that has not only been penned in Latin, but written over seven centuries before. Happy to slam a bullet between the eyes of Mallory and Jessop, the Dominicans put up the fight of their life, especially after some form of treasure appears. By the end, something will be revealed that changes not only the lives of many, but the flow of the story’s narrative. It is up to the reader to forge onwards and enter into this most epic of battles to discover the truth. Becker has done well to lay the groundwork for another wonderful novel in the series, though the ending opens pathways while closing doors at the same time, sure to frustrate series fans and those who enjoy all things Templar alike.
While it was not Becker’s series here that first got me interested in the Knights Templar, I will admit that when he started these novels, I was excited to see his spin. Those who know Becker’s Chris Bronson novels, which mix religious symbolism and stories with modern crime thrillers, understand that there is something about the cryptic and symbolic nature of the world that requires closer inspection. Becker has been able to take readers on an interesting journey with David Mallory and Robin Jessop, both of whom have strong dedication to the cause and slowly develop something for one another. Becker’s constant placement of the protagonists in the line of fire is surely meant to foster both their resolve and personal affinity for one another, which shines through. Using the Vatican as an antagonistic being is by no means new, though personifying it through the Dominicans (religious henchmen) does offer a darker perspective. The cat and mouse game that has played out through all three novels may be repetitive, but it is the determination of all parties to learn what they can about the Templar secrets that keeps the reader enthralled. Turning to the story itself, Becker keeps the narrative flowing well, as his characters slowly peel back the layers of the Templar mysteries to find new and dangerous ways of getting to the core of the Templar riches. Becker has used a great deal of research to develop this series and it shows, but for those who are Chris Bronson fans, the added bonus of seeing some of the information gleaned in that latest series instalment and placed within the story here is even more enriching. I find myself learning a great deal by reading James Becker, rather than simply gearing down to a mental neutral as I flip pages. Becker has shown that he can handle this fast-paced thriller, though I am still not sure if there is more to the story yet to come, or if this series ended with a dive off the literary cliff. I suppose time will tell!
Kudos, Mr. Becker, for such a riveting piece that kept my attention as I sped through it. Keep writing at this calibre, in whatever series suits your fancy.
A Book for All Seasons, a different sort of Book Challenge: https://www.goodreads.com/group/show/248185-a-book-for-all-seasons