The Tower

Written by Valerio Massimo Manfredi
Review by Sarah Bower

Shortly after the Great War, American archaeologist Desmond Garrett disappeared whilst looking for the legendary Tower of Solitude in the Sahara desert. Now, ten years later, his son, Philip, arrives in Rome in the hope of discovering his father’s fate. What he actually discovers is that his father’s disappearance is just the latest in a long line of mysterious events surrounding the Tower over the last two thousand years.

Armed with only his father’s sketchy notebooks and a keen mind, Philip’s search encompasses Vatican City, the French Foreign Legion, mysterious signals from outer space, a desert princess and the ubiquitous hidden enemy. It becomes clear that the only way for Philip to solve the mystery is to find the Tower himself.

There are so many plot strands and ideas in The Tower it is sometimes in danger of being overwhelmed by them all. However, Manfredi somehow manages to keep the action on track and as long as the reader is prepared to suspend disbelief there is plenty of enjoyment to be found within its pages.

I have always felt that Manfredi’s novels read almost like film scripts with their short, visual scenes – indeed The Last Legion is currently being filmed – and The Tower is no exception. Whilst this style may suit some readers I found that it lacked depth, and the translation was not particularly inspired either. Putting those niggles aside, it is an entertaining archaeological thriller and very much aimed at Da Vinci Code fans.