Thriller: Bombs and Believers, by Ken Sonenclar

Bombs & Believers

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

An art theft investigator and member of the President’s Council on arts and culture, Zander Blake heads to London to give a convention speech. Times are tense, as there’s just been a terrorist bombing in Turkey. The tension is ramped up when another conference presenter is murdered, his room ransacked. It isn’t long before his assistant, doctoral student Penny Theobald, is kidnapped, and Zander’s badly roughed up when he tries to stop her abductors. Zander has suspicions about who’s behind all the vicious mayhem, and as soon as he’s physically able, he’s on the trail to Istanbul.

Bombs and Believers owes its basic set of premises to The DaVinci Code, but it’s no mere clone. It careens along at break-neck speed, drawing into its path a host of colorful characters with agendas of their own. There’s the museum curator from New York’s Met, the shady ex-con of an LA art dealer, the Scotland Yard bird dog, an American foreign service officer whose brief is not quite clear, and the pair of brothers who run Turkey’s government and cultural scene. Even the US President plays a cameo role. The center around which this cyclone whirls is nothing less than one of the ancient wonders of the world. Following the chase resembles participating in an online adventure game, full of puzzles to solve and ciphers to decode.

Bombs and Believers is not great lit, but it is a breathless ride, loaded with hairpin turns, booby traps, and surprises galore. Great fun to be had as the pages whiz by.

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