When the bodies of seven headless monks are found on the rocks below a Greek mountain monastery, Nick Dial, head of Interpol's homicide division, investigates in Kuzneski's fourth novel to feature ex-Special Forces warriors Jonathon Payne and David Jones (after Sword of God). Meanwhile, Payne and Jones are in St. Petersburg, Fla., when Payne receives a phone call from a frightened American woman, Allison Taylor, in St. Petersburg, Russia, who says her boss, a wealthy antiquities researcher, has just been shot dead there. Payne flies to Russia to rescue Allison. Both of these plots eventually join as all involved head off to find a mysterious lost artifact, now known to be one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World. Despite the silly, juvenile banter between Payne and Jones as they go about the business of killing bad guys and the book's weak denouement, readers will find the Greek setting a refreshing change after the usual Rome and Jerusalem venues of many such religious thrillers. (Aug.)Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
Well-plotted thriller turns on ancient secrets, savvy sleuths and other matters to do Indiana Jones proud. There's a hidden treasure to rival Solon's here, plus extremely bad guys, and good guys who don't play by the rules. The whole saga is set against a little-explored backdrop: mountainous northeastern Greece, home to devout monks who are very good at keeping secrets and very bad at defending themselves. Kuzneski (Sword of God, 2007, etc.) opens on an ominously antiquarian note. "The greatest secret of Ancient Greece was silenced by a death in Italy"-a death in Naples on Christmas Day 1890, to be exact, and portending "fire, deception, and ancient gold." Portent reigns throughout, sometimes ham-fistedly. As we careen into the present, we find a blade-bearing evildoer and his henchmen inside the sanctuary of an Orthodox monastery, to an unhappy effect for the monk on deck: "He punctuated his statement with a flick of his sword, separating the monk from his head . . . Head on the left. Body on the right. Blood everywhere." Enter the Americans in the form of Delta Force types known as MANIACS ("the top soldiers from the Marines, Army, Navy, Air Force, and Coast Guard"). So what's Uncle Sam doing mixing it up with bearded heretics halfway across the world, to say nothing of the long-suffering Greek cops in charge of cracking the case? Could be it has something to do with clerics flying under false colors, or unfinished Cold War business, or the clash of civilizations, but it wouldn't be sporting to say. Kuzneski steers his narrative through enough satisfying twists and turns to resemble a Mediterranean goat path until the mystery is revealed and the killers of "ten monks, three cops, and afucking mule" and chastened. Good for late summer at the beach. Agent: Scott Miller/Trident Media Group