Friday, September 16, 2011

Sanctus by Simon Toyne


The blurb:
The certainties of modern life are about to be shattered by an ancient conspiracy that has been nurtured by blood and lies.

A man climbs a cliff face in the oldest inhabited place on earth, a mountain known as the Citadel, a Vatican-like city-state that towers above the city of Ruin in contemporary Turkey.  But this is no ordinary ascent.  It is a dangerous, symbolic act.  And thanks to the media, it is witnessed by the entire world.

And few people understand its consequence.  For foundation worker, Kathryn Mann and a handful of others, it's evidence that a hopeful, new beginning is at hand.  For the cowled and secretive monks who live inside the Citadel, it could mean the end of everything that they have built -- and they will break every law in every country and even kill to stop it.  For reporter Liv Adamsen, it spurs the memory of the beloved brother she has lost and begins the next stage of a journey into the hart of her own identity.

Reviewers have compared Sanctus to Dan Brown's DaVinci Code.  They both delve into the mysteries and possible abuses by organized religion -- particular sects of the Catholic Church.  They also share an accessibility and a fastpaced style.  Sanctus draws you into the mystery from the very start. The book opens with an errant monk who somehow escapes knowing the secret of the powerful group and his very public repudiation of the sect.  The monk seems to be a good person, we sympathize with him and wonder what it is that the group is hiding in the inner sanctum, what is the secret that gives these monks such long live, good health and power?

Toyne keeps the tension quite high as we learn about the sect's hierarchy, politics, and ruthless policies.  Aside from the brothers, there are guards with guns who patrol the area to make sure that no strangers and no unauthorized brothers enter the secret areas.

The more interesting characters include the escaped brother, Samuel; Inspector David Arkadian, the police investigator who is assigned to his mysterious death; Father Thomas, the tech genius who is the expert in the preservation of ancient documents and is friends with the rebel brother Athanasius and the escaped brother Samuel; Athanasius who after brother Samuel's death has begun to question the practices and secrets in their order; Liv, a journalist who finds herself a part of this unusual and dangerous mystery.

I love thrillers and couldn't put Sanctus down.  I enjoyed the layers of mystery, conspiracy and the underlying mystical/religious slant.  It's fast-paced, complex, and very satisfying.

ISBN-10: 0062038303 - Hardcover $25.99
Publisher: William Morrow (September 6, 2011), 496 pages.
Review copy provided by the publisher.

About the Author:
In December 2007, Simon Toyne quit his job and moved to France for six months, hoping to fulfill a long-held desire to write a thriller.  After a sleepless night crossing the channel on a storm-battered midnight ferry, he and his family abandoned the eight-hour drive to their new home and instead started looking for a hotel.

It was the eerie sight of the sharp spire of the Rouen Cathedral piercing the predawn sky that immediately struck Toyne's imagination and gave birth to the fictional Citadel of Sanctus.

Toyne has worked in British television for twenty years.  As a writer, director, and producer, he has worked on several award-winning shows, one of which won a BAFTA.  He lives in England with his wife and family.

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