Friday, December 23, 2011

Altar of Bones by Philip Carter

In Altar of Bones, Zoe Dmitroff is entrusted with a centuries old very dangerous secret. Just like those who have come before her, this secret will put her life in danger. As she fights to protect it, others will stop at nothing to attain it. The story spans many years, crosses many countries and touches many lives. Even the rich, powerful and famous are not safe.

I enjoyed this one, but only up to a point. It was a good thriller and had the potential to be great, but it's heavy reliance on action sequences, let me wanting. I kept reading because I wanted to hear about this conspiracy in which "everything you believed is wrong...everything you feared is real". Doesn't that sound good? Maybe I was expecting too much and looked at the book the wrong way. Instead of reading to find out about this conspiracy, I should have just relaxed and read the book for what it was...a good thriller. Maybe.

This book offers up another theory (or theories) surrounding the deaths of John Fitzgerald Kennedy and Marilyn Monroe. I found that very intriguing. However, the theory is so out there and such a small part of the book, relatively speaking, I was a little disappointed. I wanted substance, planning, deception, plotting...all the things of a good conspiracy. Maybe there was some of that here, but it got lost. As far as I'm concerned, with a few changes the conspiracy could have been about any two famous people, say John Lennon and John Belushi, or Natalie Wood and Abraham Lincoln. Again, maybe I'm being too hard on the book.

Back to the action scenes for a minute. I like said above, this book is packed full of action scenes. It would probably translate beautifully into a motion picture. In fact, it's almost like it was written with making a movie in mind. While I don't mind some action in my movies, here it was too much. Much of that action/running around/car chases etc. was wasted on me. While putting the characters in jeopardy as they race around the world added suspense to the story, I wanted to get to the part about Kennedy and Monroe.

Having said all of that, there were parts I really liked. The story might not be probable or even plausible, but it certainly was entertaining. I didn't once think about stopping and giving up on it. I loved how the different characters took turns telling part of the stories. It fit with the overall theme and made it interesting and suspenseful. Also, I really liked the two main characters, Zoe and Ry. I liked the tension in their dynamic relationship.

Favourite quote: I liked this quote because every time my husband and I dig in the garden and a plant is really hard to dig up, I say to my husband "I wish that Chinese person holding onto the root would just let go already?"  It's nice to know that I'm not the only one who thinks like that. 
Babe, they're gonna bury it so deep, the only way it'll ever see the light of day again is if some kid in China accidentally uncovers it while digging around in his backyard. (page 312)
Philip Carter is a pseudonym of an internationally bestselling author. I've heard rumours that it's Dan Brown. It certainly could be. The storytelling and conspiracy angle were not unlike The da Vinci Code. Then again, it could also be any one of a half-dozen other writers out there. Anyone have another theory?

Recommended for its thriller aspects.

For more information about this book or to browse inside, please visit Simon & Schuster's website.

I'd like to thank those nice people at Simon & Schuster UK for this review copy.

Altar of Bones by Philip Carter, Gallery Book (Simon & Schuster UK), ©2011. ISBN 9780857202062(ARC), 455p.

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