The Charter (www.gillianhamer.com)
What we thought : With my love of crime writing and archaeology, this book drew my interest as it has a foot in both themes. It started with an ‘Indiana Jones’ theme, and continued at a similar high impact and pace throughout.
When an ancient artefact, The Bronze Box, is stolen and a leading archaeologist is murdered, Dr Sasha Blake, fresh out of Uni, finds herself innocently tied up in the enquiry, recruited to discover the truth by a shady organisation called The Agency. On her tail is an international criminal who is known only as The Libyan.
Sasha has a personal motivation, the victim was both her mentor and lover, and when she is thrown together with ex-spook, Tom Sheridan, her world turns into a nightmare as she is dragged through a series of lies, secrets and danger that lead to an ancient brotherhood who protect the secret contents of The Bronze Box.
I enjoyed the book, loved the details, history and customs of Bulgaria (especially as I’ve visited Varna and the Black Sea area) that were brilliantly described and very well researched – and think the author managed to combine the past and presents storylines very well. Not an easy task as I’m aware from my own writing. The pace maintained throughout and held my attention right through to final scenes and the aftermath, and I found the characters well-formed and believable.
Negatives? Characterisation in terms of motivation puzzled me at times and I think the dialogue could have been polished to sound more natural in some scenes.
Fitzjohn is a competent writer, and for a debut novel, this was a huge achievement. I’d recommend this to anyone with the same interests as mine looking for a new name in high-octane thrillers.
You’ll enjoy this if you like : Kate Mosse, Dan Brown, Barbara Erskine
Avoid if you don’t like : Ancient brotherhoods, archaeology and sinister plot twists.
Ideal accompaniments : Beef Stroganoff and a glass of claret wine.
Genre : Thriller