The Lazarus Vault
Out of the blue, Ellie Stanton is offered a job – posh flat and limitless credit included – at a bank in modern-day London. She leaves a boyfriend and the life of an impoverished Oxford grad student to take it. Suspicions are raised and soon she is Grail hunting with the best – and hunted herself. A parallel story line bounces us back to the 12th century to follow the revenge quest of a second son who will eventually take on the name of Chrétien de Troyes and become that written origin of all Grail stories. Events from his life plus his Breton mother’s tales form the stories he will eventually write – and weave with clues for our modern heroes.
I am reviewing the paperback edition of what was hardcover a year ago. I found the novel, in spite of a number of leaps of logic, so much more enjoyable than The Da Vinci Code to which it is obviously indebted for everything from hidden bank vaults to secluded country estates and handicapped villains. Lazarus’s puzzles are actually believable. The female characters are better drawn. Most importantly for this audience, the history is competent. Alas, that the modern bestseller could not take a whole book set in the time of Chrétien (written in gripping present tense). “The hulls are so thin I can feel the water beneath, like horseflesh through a saddle” graces just the first paragraph of the 12th century; fine historical writing.