Foretold by Thunder by E M Davey
|Foretold by Thunder by E M Davey|
|Reviewer: Ani Johnson|
|Summary: A fast paced, rip-roaring thriller tying in Etruscan religion with more recent history and a race for life and knowledge. Exciting, fascinating and the first of a series; cue anticipatory, excited frissons up and down the spine!|
|Buy? Yes||Borrow? Yes|
|Pages: 320||Date: July 2015|
|Publisher: Duckworth & Co Ltd|
|External links: Author's website|
A university professor is randomly killed by a thunderbolt after posting a package of history texts to journalist Jake Wolsey. Was his death really that random? Jake doesn't have long to ponder that before he's off to Turkey with archaeologist Florence Chung to investigate the ancient religion of the Etruscans. He's not the only one interested; MI6 are tailing him for a reason even the agents concerned don't know. As history starts to reveal its secrets and connects with names centuries after the Etruscans died, Jake and Florence realise this is as much a fight for their lives as it is for knowledge.
E M Davey is a BBC journalist who specialises in under cover investigatory work. He should therefore be well-placed to write about a journalist who travels the world in pursuit of a scoop. There again, shared experience doesn’t guarantee he's a fiction author who can imbue facts and extrapolated fancies with excitement and a pace that will knock our proverbial hats off. It's no guarantee but, looking at this, his debut thriller, he can. Gosh he most definitely can!
In order to be convinced by the religious connection and its effects, you need to read the novel. If I listed them here, they would seem totally far-fetched but EM (if I may be so familiar) utilises his love of ancient history to the extent that we don't tut disparagingly even though our rational selves realise it's fiction.
The trick is that the author goes to the actual writings of Roman historian Eusebius of Caesarea (they're in English so don't panic!) and joins the dots between them, the existing Etruscan Book of Omens and the adventure on which he sends us with his characters. Add to this some interesting thoughts and documents about/from people in our more recent past and we have ourselves a cracking good read.
What if you don't give a flying toga for Roman historians in particular or history in general? EM's thought of that and caters for you too. As Jake encounters topical as well as fictional dangers in parts of the world previously traversed by EM, this is a thriller injected with inside nowse as well as well-placed heart-attack-inducing paranoia, appealing to all who like their adrenalin rushes fast, engrossing and, at times, bloody.
Even being able to spot the characters wearing the wrong coloured Star Trek top (I'm being figurative – the novel contains no Star Trek references) doesn't detract from the suspense. We may mumble 'Not long for this world!' to ourselves and any nearby pets, but we know not when or how (or if!) these people will be terminated. It seems that EM's not only clever, he's inventive and likes to play with his readership.
The supporting cast may only be shadows but, unusually for a story of such wonderfully relentless pace, our main companions for the duration are fully formed people. Jake is moving further into mortal danger (and alcoholism) but the alternative – going home to safety – is unthinkable as that way lies failure.
MI6 chief Charlie is also a really class act with many facets. As for MI6 operative Jenny, the job has always come first in the past but now her mother is dying she has to suppress arising conflicts. Mind you, EM Has arranged it so that she has plenty to think about. And Florence? She definitely has enough to keep Jake occupied!
In some ways this could have turned into a pseudo Indiana Jones but he's avoided that by creating a first in series with an original life – and many deaths – of its own. In fact it has such a life of its own that waiting for Book 2 is not going to be easy, but anticipating good things never is.
(Thank you to the good folk at Duckworth & Co for providing us with a copy for review.)
Further Reading: If you like your thrillers fast and furious, we also recommend Personal by Lee Child. (And for the record, I agree with our Lesley, including her Tom Cruise rant. In fact I have a similar one!)
You can read more book reviews or buy Foretold by Thunder by E M Davey at Amazon.com.
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