the Painted Messiah
I doubt that I will risk appearing in court if I say that this is another thriller inspired by The Da Vinci Code. Indeed the blurb describes it as ‘a superior example of a genre whose popularity shows no sign of abating’.
The plot is fiendishly complicated and centres on a mystic secret guarded by the Knights Templar (who else?), currently headed by a crazed English millionaire. Almost all the characters in the New Testament get into the story except (for once) Mary Magdalene. The action is fast and the body count high.
So how does it compare with DVC? The Painted Messiah has an even more complex plot, with several competing sets of adventurers on the same Quest. Smith weaves the different stories together in a most ingenious manner, but I feel that this loses some of the narrative drive of DVC. Also I find it difficult to identify with so many leading protagonists, especially since they are all so alpha-plus—super-villains, super-agents, super athletes, super-climbers, super-artists and generally world class. Part of the appeal of DVC is that the hero is a rather impractical art historian who gets involved almost by accident and who cannot even drive a gear-shift car.
The action is set mainly in present-day Switzerland with a parallel story in 1st-century Palestine. It kept me turning the pages to the suitably ambiguous conclusion, and I had to agree that it is a superior example of its genre.