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Revision as of 13:48, 2 October 2010

The Secret Crown by Chris Kuzneski

Buy The Secret Crown by Chris Kuzneski at Amazon.co.uk or Amazon.com

Category: General Fiction
Rating: 4/5
Reviewer: Louise Laurie
Reviewed by Louise Laurie
Summary: This book has a definite Da Vinci Code flavour about it. Set in modern-day Germany a gung-ho duo of action men, a pretty girl and the odd 'undesirable but nevertheless interesting' are all thrown into the mix in order to try and solve a centuries-old riddle.
Buy? Maybe Borrow? Maybe
Pages: 480 Date: September 2010
Publisher: Penguin Books Ltd
ISBN: 978-0241952122

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The riddle is the whole crux of the book. So we're taken right back, albeit briefly, to Bavaria in the year 1886, via the Prologue. So, the scene is now set, foul play is most definitely afoot and lots of questions should pop into the reader's mind. Such as who? Why? etc. So far, so good, I thought. We then fast-forward straight to present-day Germany and due to an unfortunate hunting accident, something which was a secret, is no longer.

Enter two All-American, action men. Their respective backgrounds are impressive. Plenty of references to Special Forces, for instance and other names with important abbreviated forms - MANIAC. Fearless appears to be their middle name and there's also a nice line in innocent humour between the two men. Keeping fear at bay perhaps. Their professional relationship is rock-solid, there's no doubt about that. It would need to be as their secret projects and undercover missions are fraught with danger. But they appear to accept and deliver results with good grace. A little far-fetched at times. Everything - but everything they are required to do is rip-roaring fun, dangling from a cliff precipice with death only seconds away, for example. Now once or twice, that's to be admired but Kuzneski does labour the point somewhat.

This pair appear to be giving James Bond a run for his money. And yes, in parts, especially the action parts (and there are lots of them) this book reads like a 007 thriller. There's the rather predictable but secret telephone calls, there's the secret meetings in secret locations with secret people. I could go on but I think you get the picture. All good fun for this genre but it didn't grab me. I wanted to be grabbed. On a good point, the plot itself is intricate with plenty of dangerous obstacles to overcome. Some of the action pages were a little repetitive and made the book, as a whole, a tad over-long. When I was reading these parts I was kind of saying to myself, yeah, yeah.

Various other characters make their entrance, designed to elaborate the story-line and plot. Because of the joking and messing about between the two central characters, they lost a bit of depth for me. I didn't take them as seriously as I probably should have. This is an action book, pure and simple. Glamorous locations and glamorous modes of transport all underline the James Bond similarity. I got the distinct impression that Kuzneski likes his guns. They get quite a few mentions - and detailed mentions at that. Let me give you just one example Loaded with a five-round magazine of .308 Winchester cartridges, the expected accuracy of the DSR-1 was within .20 inches ... Is it just me or is that information overload?

Things eventually fall into place (several false starts down the line). On a plus note, Kuzneski has a fluent, easy to read style. This is escapism reading for a wet weekend. Personally, I was luke-warm about this book. I didn't find it particularly original and I found the constant joshing between the two main characters annoying after a while. If you are a fan of The Da Vinci Code and all things James Bond you will probably enjoy this book.

I'd like to thank the publishers for sending a copy to The Bookbag.

If this appeals then try The Heretic Queen by Michelle Moran.

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