Review of ‘The Sacred Sword’ by Scott Mariani

046746-FC222Well, my Ben Hope marathon of all eight books in two weeks is closing fast and this one is pretty much the same as all the rest. However, it only gets three stars because of the tenuous ancient mystery factor. Jesus Christ owns a sword? <snort> I thought it might be another “we’ve found Excalibur!” novel, so kudos to Mariani for coming up with something slightly different; but even he, in a three page limp explanation by Wesley Holland in Martha’s Vineyard realizes about two pages into it that the explanation is so banal as to hardly merit the paper time. A theme he continues by having a side trip to Jerusalem dealt with post-haste so he can get back to the real story of atheist psychopath, Professor Penrose Lucas – a man with serious daddy issues and a hatred for all things Christianity. It’s always the parent’s fault!
Anyway, as ever it is proving hard to review a Mariani novel without spoilers given he’s moved, since book three, to having major character twists and turns. This one’s certainly an eye-opener as he relegates both Darcey Kane to a phone call for a number plate and Brooke to a chat on a doorstep in London just so he can whisk our hero to Oxfordshire for a Christmas Card scene at Vicar Simeon Arundell’s place. A scene that turns nasty pretty swiftly. Mariani tells us that Ben is as confused as ever (and so is the author in this one) which results in us seeing a even more ruthless, slightly darker side to a man who says he doesn’t like killing people but seems to leave a trail of bodies everywhere, a fact dourly noted by a member of the Trimble Group in the closing chapters.
The plot centres around the discovery of four people (kind of…no, actually exactly the same as “The Relic” synopsis), opening with the murder of one them – Father Fabrice Lalique – who takes a dive off one of the highest road bridges in Europe. One car crash later we’re down to two people and Ben is speeding south to Cornwall to grab Jude Arundell and embark on a chase around Jerusalem, Massachusetts, Naples that ends up in a gruesome denouement. I have to pause here and ask the author if it was really necessary to have a scene where a foetus is cut from its mother? I mean…really, was it that necessary, Mr Mariani? No, not really, in my opinion. Then again, the trademark psychotic baddie is a constant character theme in these novels and each one just seems to have to be slightly worse that the last. With Penrose Lucas, he’s outdone himself.
There’s a strange characterisation blip about two thirds of the way in when Mariani has a right pop with a cliched, stereotypical description of an obese American family as Ben heads to Masada. He takes great pains to let us know that the “corpulent American family squeezed themselves aboard” and then off they go in fear of “being brought crashing down to the rocks by the weight of the lardy American family.” Totally unnecessary and disappointing for the author to drop into such nonsense. Here’s looking forward to number eight…

Categories: Book Reviews, Scott Mariani

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