The Last Templar
The hugely successful Da Vinci Code has resulted in a cottage industry of thrillers depicting various conspiracies surrounding the founding and early growth of Christianity. Raymond Khoury has taken a sabbatical from his film and television work to offer his first novel to those captivated by the Da Vinci Code formula. The Knights Templar occupy center stage as an ancient prototype of the Waffen SS, cold hearted, amoral, cut throat killers committed to protecting the shaky foundations of the Roman Catholic Church and Christianity. The novel begins with a thoroughly implausible storming of New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art by four mounted knights wearing Templar regalia. They slaughter dozens as they steal a critical Christian artifact from an exhibit. Tess Chaykin, an archaeologist who could easily qualify as Indiana Jones’s sister, witnesses the theft and is quickly caught up in the investigation. She works with the least likely FBI officer who has ever been portrayed in fiction. The agent and archaeologist are soon operating as a team, searching both new and old worlds for clues as to the secret behind the Templar’s crime. High Church officials dispatch a homicidal priest to thwart our duo in their totally unrealistic search for answers. Question to pose to Mr. Khoury: How can he believe a senior FBI agent in charge of a terrorist investigation would cast aside all of his responsibilities and hop on an airplane with a young woman with no training in such work—and never communicate with his superiors about his plans? (JRV)
1291: As the crusader stronghold of Acre falls, the Falcon Temple sets sail, carrying a small band of Templar knights and a mysterious chest. The ship vanishes without a trace. Present day New York: The opening of an exhibition of artefacts from the Vatican at the Metropolitan Museum is disrupted by a bizarre invasion of robbers on horseback, dressed as Templars. Among the items they steal is a mediaeval decoder. For FBI agent, Sean Reilly, and archaeologist, Tess Chaykin, this is the beginning of an adventure which will take them to three continents as well as the heart of their own beliefs and loyalties as they attempt to track down the secret of the Falcon Temple.
Yes, folks, you’ve guessed it, we’re in Dan Brown territory. But where Brown’s characters have the substance of cardboard, Khoury’s are, if not immortal, at least well rounded enough to make the reader care what happens to them. His plot, though it has even more twists and turns than The Da Vinci Code, also has a considerable philosophical hinterland. This is not subtly woven into the text, but laid out in a series of long set-piece speeches towards the climax of the novel where they tend to slow the action just when you can hardly wait to find out what will happen next. Nevertheless, it is there, for which I was grateful.
Raymond Khoury’s credentials are impeccable. He is a script writer for both Spooks and Waking the Dead. He is far from being a great stylist but he can tell a ripping yarn. I really enjoyed this book. It is fabulous hokum and highly recommended for the beach. (SB)