Pantheon by Sam Bourne

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Pantheon by Sam Bourne

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Category: General Fiction
Rating: 4.5/5
Reviewer: Robert James
Reviewed by Robert James
Summary: Excellent World War II set thriller with a really strong central character and an interesting premise.
Buy? Yes Borrow? Yes
Pages: 544 Date: February 2012
Publisher: HarperCollins
ISBN: 9780007413638

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The year is 1940. Oxford don James Zennor wants to serve his country, but due to an injury sustained while fighting in the Spanish Civil War he's rejected as unfit. When his wife and young son disappear, though, the trail leads to America in a journey which will plunge him into a world of secret societies, clandestine deals, and the chance to play his part in the war effort after all. If he survives...

This is the fourth book I've read by Sam Bourne, and almost certainly the best yet. In a crowded field of similar thrillers, Bourne scores here by having a fantastic central character - Zennor is clearly troubled after his experience in Spain and has problems keeping his temper, yet his love for his wife and son can't be doubted. It's also great to see some actual character development, as he clearly changes throughout the novel - not something you always find in this genre.

As far as the action goes, it happens in short, sharp, bursts, with the main thrust of the novel being Zennor trying to piece clues together. That said, the fights and confrontations which do occur are genuinely exciting, and seem more realistic than most. I also appreciated the way Bourne found a relatively little known event in World War II to base the action around, and was really interested to read the closing notes in which he explained what parts were based on historical evidence and which bits were pure speculation from him.

That's not to say this is a perfect book - there are a couple of actions by some of the minor characters which the author tries to explain in passing, but which seem rather bizarre, while the cuts to an American working in London were perhaps necessary to allow us to know more than Zennor did of what was going on, but served mainly to distract me from the hugely enjoyable main plot.

Overall, though, this is an easy recommendation and confirms Bourne's place as one of the best in his field at the moment.

Walk into any bookshop or library in the land and you'll find hundreds of thrillers. If you're struggling with that amount of choice, Thriller 2: Stories You Just Can't Put Down by Clive Cussler (editor) is an excellent way to get a taste of nearly two dozen authors. You might also enjoy The Postmistress by Sarah Blake.

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Buy Pantheon by Sam Bourne at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy Pantheon by Sam Bourne at


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