Review of ‘The Lost Relic’ by Scott Mariani

The-Lost-RelicThe blond “nearly-forty” demi-god that is Ben Hope is back in novel number six which has our erstwhile hero musing over the nature of his relationship with Brooke and his continuing role heading up his security training centre in La Val. What he really needs is a Georgian Mafia boss who’s obsessed with a Faberge egg to order the violent day raid on an art exhibition and have his son start murdering everyone in sight.
“No problem, Ben.” speaks the pen of Scott Mariani. “Coming right up.”
If any of the Ben Hope novels make it the screen (and I am not advocating that they should) this is a likely candidate. Basically a chase from France to Russia to Rome to England, to Portugal…it is a classic case of a hero on the run, a man believed guilty but actually looking to prove his innocence. The premise centres around one aging Russian mafioso named Grigory Shikov who is seeing the “Dark Medusa”, a piece of treasure that Mariani summarily disposes of by the denouement. Aiding him are a pair of psychotic killers: his son, Anatoly, and the ex-Spetsnaz, Spartak Gouko. Of course, the plan goes horribly awry as Ben finds himself in the wrong place at the right time. As he observes: “the crime seemed schizophrenic in nature, a contradiction in terms. It was as though the planning phase had been carried out by exactly the kind of person best suited to the job: someone extremely careful, meticulous and thorough; and then passed down the line to be executed by someone temperamentally altogether different. Someone psychopathically insane.”
Spot on.
Ben finds his heroism sprayed all over the Italian media so he decided to head over to upcoming politician Tassoni’s place to ask a few questions only to find the man dead and Ben being framed for his murder. What follows is a chase involving cars, motorcycles, sewers, subways, helicopters and…one SOCA agent by the name of Commander Darcey Kane – a woman to perfectly match Ben in her guile, relentlessness, weapons skills, moral code, and general ability to evade capture, death, and anything else the author might lob her way. The plot accelerates with the odd pause for explanations about post-October Revolution shenanigans with ex-aristocrats and their treasures. Ben has both his usual run in with top-notch art/antiquities dealers – this time they are hiding treasure maps – and manages to pull off the classic “I’ve seen my girlfriend with another man and leapt to the entirely wrong conclusion so I’ll get involved in a drunken bar brawl”. Talking of which, the entire Brooke and Marshall episode stands out in this novel as terrible. Mainly the character of Brooke’s brother-in-law. I kept expecting to find out he’d been hypnotized given his erratic, one-dimensional behaviour but apparently not. Mr Mariani – if you ever read these reader reviews – please don’t give us a character like him again. Truly awful writing.
Anyway, the novel ends with its usual formula of explosions, bad guy deaths, Ben’s inability to be in a relationship for more than five seconds, and a few strands to carry into the next novel. I liked this one better than the rest. With the exception of Marshall, it flowed nicely, the action seemed bigger than the pages – which is always a good sign.

Categories: Book Reviews, Scott Mariani

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