The Alexander Cipher by Will Adams

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The Alexander Cipher by Will Adams

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Category: Confident Readers
Rating: 3.5/5
Reviewer: Jill Murphy
Reviewed by Jill Murphy
Summary: A fun and light debut which mixes all the elements of airport adventure fiction in perfect proportions: lots of chasing and swashbuckling with fairly small dollops of violence and sex. The exposition is reasonably disguised.
Buy? No Borrow? Yes
Pages: 517 Date: November 2007
Publisher: Harper
ISBN: 978-0007250875

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Daniel Knox is a maverick Egyptologist and archaelogical dive expert. He's out of favour with most of the authorities and is earning a crust providing diving lessons to guests of shipping tycoon Hassan al-Assyuti. Until, that is, an argument with his brutal host puts his very life in danger. Hiding out from al-Assyuti's heavies with an archaeologist friend, Knox finds himself part of a team that stumbles across a catacomb in Alexandria. Inside the catacomb is a cipher that provides explosive information - clues to the location of Alexander the Great's tomb.

Of course, Knox is not the only person interested. The Egyptian Commission of Antiquities, a bunch of Macedonian nationalists and various archaelogical crooks all want to find the tomb as much as he does. Add the shipping tycoon's muscle men and some love interest in the co-incidental form of the daughter of Knox's previous mentor, who died in mysterious circumstances, and you can see it's all going to be rather flavoursome.

More Raiders of the Lost Ark than Da Vinci Code, The Alexander Cipher gallops across Egypt in Knox's rusty-trusty old Jeep in a pacy if light action thriller. I can't say that this kind of book is really anywhere near my avenue, let alone up my alley, but I did actually quite enjoy it. It isn't relentlessly action-for-boys or relentlessly romance-for-girls. There's a nice balance with lots of rushing about and just enough violence to satisfy the boys and enough kissing to satisfy the girls. There is some exposition - obviously - but it's reasonably well-disguised and it didn't irritate the life out of me as exposition in these books so often does.

The characters, with the exception of Daniel Knox, are all rather one-dimensional and fulfill equally one-dimensional plot functions, but Knox himself did come to life for me, and I could probably read another book about him. He isn't the book's girl-magnet; that's his friend Augustin. He isn't the book's action hero; that's his friend Rick. He isn't the book's cleverest archaelogist either. He's a kind of everyman hero, someone we could all aspire to be, and I rather liked him.

Oh dear. I'm sounding very luke warm. The Alexander Cipher isn't my kind of book. It just isn't meaty enough. But if you like this sort of genre fiction, you'll enjoy it immensely.

My thanks to the good people at Harper Collins for sending the book.

If you like this kind of high adventure, you might also enjoy Manda Scott's The Crystal Skull.

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