Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Book Review: The Last Templar by Raymond Khoury

Author: Raymond Khoury
Blurb (from Goodreads):

In a hail of fire and flashing sword, as the burning city of Acre falls from the hands of the West in 1291, The Last Templar opens with a young Templar knight, his mentor, and a handful of others escaping to the sea carrying a mysterious chest entrusted to them by the Order's dying Grand Master. The ship vanishes without a trace.
In present day Manhattan, four masked horsemen dressed as Templar Knights emerge from Central Park and ride up the Fifth Avenue steps of the Metropolitan Museum of Art during the blacktie opening of a Treasures of the Vatican exhibit. Storming through the crowds, the horsemen brutally attack anyone standing between them and their prize. Attending the gala, archaeologist Tess Chaykin watches in silent terror as the leader of the horsemen hones in on one piece in particular, a strange geared device. He utters a few cryptic Latin words as he takes hold of it with reverence before leading the horsemen out and disappearing into the night.
In the aftermath, an FBI investigation is led by anti-terrorist specialist Sean Reilly. Soon, he and Tess are drawn into the dark, hidden history of the crusading Knights, plunging them into a deadly game of cat and mouse with ruthless killers as they race across three continents to recover the lost secret of the Templars
This book has been sitting on my shelf for about a year after I bought it before I finally got to read it. Being the history nerd that I am, I saw the title and I couldn't resist buying it. I kept putting it off because I was afraid this was going to be another hit and miss for me, like other books on this subject were.

I can't say I didn't like the book, because I'd be lying. There were some great parts that this book had, like the flashbacks from the past. I love it when an author manages to combine the present actions with past scenes and Raymond Khoury did that very well in my opinion. And the historical details were very well introduced in the book, though I feel that at times the history lesson was too much. The suspense, the not knowing what artifact is the one being searched was good. It wasn't about what it was, but more of to whom it belonged in the first place. Who was the first person who had that artifact, before the templars got hold of it.  I think that was an interesting question to answer.

The plot isn't new, it's not something you haven't yet read. It's very well told, but it's not new. The characters surprised me though, and not in a good way. It might be a stereotype, but aren't detectives supposed to be...well, detectives? I mean, Sean Rilley wasn't the detective he came across, he wasn't intuitive, he didn't manage to get inside the criminal's mind, he lacked that certain something that I believe detectives should have. Not to mention the fact that Tess manages to somehow become the boss in this little adventure. Tess would've been a perfect detective. And it's not because she has the historical knowledge to back her up, it's because she has the traits that Sean doesn't. Then there's the romance that develops between them that feels so premature to me and a bit unprofessional. I mean, they could feel attracted to each other and explore those feelings after the investigation is completed.

I think this is a book the readers of The da Vinci Code would enjoy.

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