The Heretic's Treasure by Scott Mariani

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The Heretic's Treasure by Scott Mariani

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Category: General Fiction
Rating: 5/5
Reviewer: Kerry King
Reviewed by Kerry King
Summary: Ben Hope is back in action after a phone call from an old army colleague, Colonel Harry Paxton. It seems Paxton's son, Morgan, has been savagely murdered in Egypt. As a renowned Egyptologist and scholar, Morgan's murder makes the headlines but it is not until Hope is dispatched to the scene that the alarm bells begin to ring, and immediately he understands that all is not as it would seem.
Buy? Yes Borrow? Yes
Pages: 400 Date: June 2009
Publisher: Avon
ISBN: 978-1847560827

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Thank goodness there is a new Scott Mariani novel! As with all of the Ben Hope stories, Mariani released The Doomsday Prophecy, (number three in the series) just less than a year ago with the previous two in the series coming out during the preceding nine months. But even such a short wait feels like too long for this next instalment, The Heretic's Treasure and I can tell you, my knuckles were white with anticipation.

Mariani's hero, ex-SAS operative, Ben Hope (who I have to tell you now is eminently relatable to both men and women – I personally am a tiny bit in love with him and his believable rugged good looks - I think it's the Brad Pitt-ishly shorn blond hair - and appealing fallibility when it comes to matters of the heart) is now living in rural France. Hope and a former army chum are running a top-tier training outfit that coaches the world's elite public and private armed forces in the art of hostage negotiation and retrieval. Life is good, business is booming and Hope feels the quieter life, away from death, danger and intrigue is a much more fitting and peaceful way to spend his days.

With all quiet on the Western Front and Ben finally having the chance to take in the tranquillity of his new life, he is not expecting the phone call that comes late one evening, bringing with it the voice of a man Ben has not seen for more years than he can count. It is a voice that Ben knows very well as Colonel Harry Paxton was once his Commanding Officer and, in fact, Ben owes him his life.

In a composed and unruffled tone, Paxton explains that his only son, Morgan, a well-respected Egyptologist, has been brutally and apparently senselessly slain for his meagre belongings. With a familiar military detachment Paxton asks, straight out, if Ben will travel to Cairo on his behalf and avenge his murder.

How can Hope refuse the man to whom he owes the greatest debt of all: his life? How can he possibly make Paxton understand that he does not believe he is capable of killing any more?

This latest of Mariani's high octane best-seller busters has three pretty tough acts to follow. I had exceptionally lofty expectations for The Heretic's Treasure – not to mention a massive crush on the hero - so when it started with a bang, grabbing me by the throat and hanging grimly on until I was afraid to put the book down in case I missed something, I was smugly and gluttonously satisfied.

The crux of the tale surrounds an ancient legend about the hidden treasure of Akhenaton's Pharaonic Egypt, which has our hero recklessly charging around Cairo and the Northern Sahara, perpetually moments away from death. True to form, the storyline is totally and completely convincing – I love it when an author weaves one of these old epic fables into their plot, and as I have an interest in Egyptology that is slightly more than passing, I seized upon the idea of a huge, secreted stash of priceless artefacts with zealous abandon!

Throw in a couple of incredibly beautiful women, a twining, snaking trail of devastation as Hope seeks the answers to his questions in the unlikeliest of places employing every inch of his cunning and skill and it is easy to see why Mariani is being heaped with praise for writing yet another simply superb Hope novel.

In summary, once again, Mariani knocks it out of the park. His Hope novels most certainly warrant the Hollywood treatment and there are some who say that should Ben Hope appear on our screens, the series will be bigger than Robert Ludlum's Bourne books. I eagerly await the next instalment from Mariani because I already know it's going to be a smash hit.

Now, you really, really do need to read both The Doomsday Prophecy and The Alchemist's Secret because they are fantastic books. If you are a fan of Dan Brown, you will lap this stuff up and I can tell you with authority that you will like it better. You should also get acquainted with Sam Bourne because the parallels are obvious. Bourne is a very clever chap and his novels are equally gripping. We think you might enjoy The Book of Two Ways by Jodi Picoult although our reviewer found it a little heavy on exposition.

Lastly, we at Bookbag are - and this reviewer in particular - most grateful to the publishers, Avon, for sending this copy to us for review.

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