Thursday, January 29, 2009

The Doomsday Prophecy by Scott Mariani


When ex-SAS operative Ben Hope decided to give up his life rescuing kidnap victims and return to the Theology studies he abandoned years before, he should have known that fate would decide differently.

When his old professor begs him to find his missing daughter, the wild and wayward biblical archaeologist Zoë Bradbury, Ben soon finds himself saddled with his most dangerous mission yet. What is the ancient biblical secret that Zoë uncovered? And who will stop at nothing to protect it?

As Ben’s quest leads him from the Greek Islands to the American Deep South and the holy city of Jerusalem, he comes to realise that it’s not just his and Zoë’s lives on the line, but those of millions. The stakes are unimaginably high as he finds himself racing to prevent a terrible disaster that could kick-start nothing less than the End Times foretold by the Book of Revelation...

Scott Mariani is back with a new adventure for Ben Hope, his main character whom the author seems to delight in throwing in the deep end. In both The Alchemist's Secret and The Mozart Conspiracy, you get to know Ben's character very well, you learn what makes him tick, his skill sets and you form a pretty good idea of what his world is like.

At the end of The Mozart Conspiracy I was in floods of tears. I was totally devastated by what had happened to Ben and was tempted to write a stern note to tell Mr. Mariani that he should ease off on Ben and that he should pick on someone else. Fortunately I didn't and Ben's back for a wildly conflicting novel.

The Doomsday Prophecy is, at its heart, a fantasic character driven novel with a depth that many thriller and adventure novels lack. Oh, there is action aplenty and dastardly deeds get done by mean men in dark suits BUT what puts this head and shoulders over other novels of the same ilk is how well Mr. Mariani balances out the action, the drama, suspense and the character development.

Zoë's disappearance sets off the thrills and spills of the adventure. I was fully prepared to like her and was therefore pleasantly surprised when she turned out to be a nasty little piece of work - and I loved it. Again, my preconceived expectations came into play. I should know better than that by now, knowing Mr. Mariani's writing.

Ben is called in by her parents who are devastated at the disappearance of their one and only. Ben is hesitant, having sworn off his previous life, wanting to make a new start after all he's been through. He capitulates in the very end and goes to Greece where things become really wild. He almost dies in an explosion - the description will leave you gasping, I kid you not - and he ends up doing what he does best: puts his head down and follows the leads, no matter where it leads him.

He sojourns to America and makes a turn in Savannah, following up clues. He is kidnapped, shot at, gets into trouble with the police, finds the girl, rescues the girl, gets shot at even more, snatched by men in suits for nefarious reasons and ends up in Jerusalem - it is a thrilling ride, one heavily anchored in modern culture, playing on our fears and beliefs - no matter if you are Christan, Muslim, Jewish or an atheist.

In no way am I giving anything else away - especially not the rest of the plot. It twists and turns and it is sneaky.

The end of the novel is a showstopper and 100% satisfying. You know you are rooting for the guy and he does something so cool you do a mental fist-punch in the air (the equavalent of running the length of a football field with your shirt over head) and you have to bite the inside of your mouth not to shout out "YES!" in case you get arrested on the train. Awesome thrilling stuff - I know, it sounds a bit silly as I gush about it, but it IS Ben Hope afterall and he is top of my list for dark damaged and tortured heroes.

Can you really have a crush on a fictional character...apart from Mr. Darcy, I wonder?

But even BETTER news than this is: more is to come...THE HERETIC’S TREASURE will be released in June 2009. This fourth instalment of the series will see Ben travel to the sands of Egypt to crack an ancient mystery and repay a debt to an old SAS comrade. Find Scott's website here.

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