Review of ‘The Forgotten Holocaust’ by Scott Mariani

imgresMariani’s ripping tenth instalment for ex-SAS man “Don’t-You-Call-Me-‘Major'” Ben Hope has our whiskey-sodden hero stumbling about in a post-Nemesis Program fugue. Perfect for the author to turn him into a vigilante and introduce some new Hope girls into the mix. This time it’s one Erin Hayes whose story starts a few thousand miles away from Ben (who’s in Ireland) in Tulsa, Oklahoma where she is a witness to a brutal murder by Mayor Finn McCrory no less. Trouble is, Mayors tend to have local law enforcement in their pockets which means she’s in more trouble than even Ben can sort in a hurry. He’s not having too much of a good time either, failing to save the historical researcher, Kristen, who has discovered the deep, dark 19th century secret of Lord Stamford and one Padraig McCrory – all linked to the Great Irish Potato Famine of 1847.

What follows is a blind rage of a quest as Ben tries to imprison his own demons by descending like an Avenging Angel, firstly on Madeira, then on Tulsa to rectify a hundred and fifty year old genocide and recent murder. Pitched gun battles ensue, shootouts at ranches, death-defying fights with ex-US marines gone bad, car chases, etc.. You get the idea.

What is interesting in this book is that the concept of the Irish Famine being encouraged by the English overlords of Ireland – not an historically new theory. Mariani spends several pages diverting from the usual guns, explosions, and cliched one-liners to invest time in explaining the prima facie case in a manner that is intently serious. He ventures so far as to say that “to refer to such events as a famine is to miss the point entirely and to insult the memory of the millions of lives lost.”

I have to say, I like Ben Hope. As the novels have come out, Mariani’s writing has improved beyond the likes of Andy McDermott. Authors of the airport “hero-solves-ancient-mystery-with-guns-and-mysticism” genre seem to have to make a decision to go one of two ways: either the over-the-top adventure epitomised by Matthew Reilly, or more intelligent writing based on premise and some literary ability. Mariani is veering towards the latter. For example, his prose now possesses descriptive narrative like:

“The endlessly cycling seasons had done the rest. Autumn and spring rains had rotted the timbers to black stumps, winter frosts had driven deep cracks into the stone floors, from which the summer had coaxed thick growths of nettles and brambles that encircled the ruins like barbed wire.”

It’s hardly J G Ballard, but there’s some neat assemblage of adjectives there to satiate the average reader. Anyway, the Ben Hope novels; I thought I’d put them in order of favourite reads because…well, why not, eh? So here goes (from best to…not best):

  1. The Lost Relic (Ben Hope 6)
  2. The Mozart Conspiracy (Ben Hope 2)
  3. The Alchemist’s Secret (Ben Hope 1)
  4. The Nemesis Program (Ben Hope 9)
  5. The Heretic’s Treasure (Ben Hope 4)
  6. The Forgotten Holocaust (Ben Hope 10)
  7. The Armada Legacy (Ben Hope 8)
  8. The Doomsday Prophecy (Ben Hope 3)
  9. The Shadow Project (Ben Hope 5)
  10. The Sacred Sword (Ben Hope 7)

Categories: Scott Mariani

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