The Silver Serpent (Ben Hope #25), by Scott Mariani

Eight stars

Scott Mariani is back with another in his Ben Hope series. The story remains strong and takes readers to the opposite side of the world., where things are just as gritty for Hope and those around him. Mariani does well to balance humour and action, with just enough romantic spark to keep readers appeased across the board. A great addition to the series that is sure to keep fans of Mariani’s work quite happy.

While Ben Hope has been enjoying life in France, he knows that his services are so sought after the world over. When his business partner and close friend, Jeff Decker, approaches him with an issue, there is no doubt that Ben will help. Decker’s step-father has gone missing in the Australian Outback and there’s no guarantee that he’s still alive.

After gathering some provisions, Ben gets finds himself soaring above the clouds for the great Down Under alongside Jeff. As they arrive, the kidnapping case gets even more serious, as answers are not plentiful. While Jeff wants to support his mother, he knows that it will take close to a miracle for anything positive to come out of this. However, there is a new angle, one that could really open up some new and exciting opportunities.

It would seem that it’s not only crocodiles and barren wasteland in the Northern Territory, but also an old legend about a major silver mine, one that has many salivating for a piece of the pie, including a ruthless businessman who will stop at nothing to amass riches in the region. Ben and Jeff will have to work their magic, sometimes independently, to find answers before it’s too late. A great addition to the series that will have Mariani fans quite pleased with the latest instalment.

There is something about Scott Mariani’s writing that always gets me excited. I love the thrill of the hunt in these books, where Ben Hope has been forced to evolve and grow for the reader throughout. There is something for everyone in this series, which has not gone stale after so many novels. Well-paced and powerfully penned, Mariani has a winner here for all to see.

Ben Hope has proven himself over the last number of novels, but this is a time for new development and perhaps some added personal insight as well. Ben has been through a great deal and yet never seems to toss in the towel. This piece allows the reader not only to see him on a new terrain, but to come to terms with some of his buried emotions, all while trying to help fight for those who are in need of his brawn. Mariani has done well to ensure his protagonist is anything but one dimensional, adding a little spark of romance to keep things light.

The Ben Hope series mixes some wonderful writing with great plots and an attractive set of characters. Mariani works through a strong narrative to propel the story forward, keeping the reader hooked with short chapters and numerous characters that are well worth the reader’s time. A plot that evolves throughout, taking the reader through many twists and turns. Using some well-developed ideas in Australia, Mariani takes the reader there and leaves them to feel as though they are in the middle of the action, slang and all. I was so pleased to see things develop with ease and am excited to see what is to come with this series that never seems to lose momentum at any point.

Kudos, Mr. Mariani, for another winner. How you do it, I have no idea!