The race for the Ark of the Covenant may seem a well worn fictional path but the prospect of stifling a yawn is initially rendered highly unlikely by a lead character whose occasionally comic book escapades would surely lend themselves to a more memorable soubriquet if this this story were ever transferred to the silver screen.
Indiana Holmes, sorry Dr Ava Curzon, is a former MI6 officer turned museum curator who combines the daring and resolve of the Hollywood archaeologist with the razor sharp mental agility of the Conan Doyle super sleuth.
Her nemesis Malchus earned his dastardly spurs as a Stassi officer before the fall of the Berlin wall but in many ways portrays a conflicting persona of an arechetypal pantomime villain possessing all the evil traits you’d expect of an acolyte of Himmler As the somewhat convoluted and bloody story line unravels the quest for not only the Ark but also the Menorah and the sword of Moses assumes a life of its own with the plot moving so quickly the reader is at times left gasping for breath.
As the connection to the Knights Templar and its latter day fictional embodiment in the freemasons take on real significance the author’s attention to historical detail adds credibility and context to the plot. However as the quest gathers momentum and the good doctor, with her trusty side-kick Major Ferguson, begin to crack codes quicker than a stellar team of Bletchley Park operatives there are just too many eureka moments and as a result the suspense becomes muted and gradually what should be a page turner takes on an unfortunate air of predictability.
The final confrontation between good and evil at the castle built to embody Himmler’s occultist and extremist vision is both violent and anti-climactic. Good triumphs and the embryonic Fourth Reich is left bloodied and bereft of the religious artefacts they thought would bring them a form of evil Undoubtedly well researched and with a contemporary feel for the ongoing power of religion to divide and destroy this book is still arguably too long and may well have benefited from an ending more Hollywood than Baker Street.
The Sword of Moses by Dominic Selwood.
Published by Corax
This review originally featured in the Oxford Times
- Rich Review rating: