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by Michael White
Arrow, July 2009
480 pages
6.99 GBP
ISBN: 0099536293

Buy in the UK | Buy in Canada

An ancient skeleton is found on a building site in the City of London. Within a few hours, a series of murders has begun that has its origins in a plot to assassinate Queen Elizabeth I some 500 years ago. DCI Jack Pendragon is new to Brick Lane police station but has no time to find his feet, being thrust into a search for a killer teetering on the brink of madness. Will he succeed or will people continue to die?

THE BORGIA RING is yet another novel with the requisite mix of murder, action and excitement and one that you could easily imagine appearing as a TV drama along the lines of TAGGART or a one-off BBC show. It opens with some particularly original and memorable lines (involving a scrotum) and it remains interesting throughout. The author swaps between past and present regularly, developing two stories in one as we look to see how the Borgia’s ring has made it from Elizabethan London to modern London. The descriptions of Elizabethan London read well and it is nice to see figures of that time playing a cameo role, such as William Shakespeare. Even Elizabeth I gets a little role to play in the denouement of her tale.

There is no denying that the characters are somewhat stereotypical and the plot is, at times, fairly predictable (the police struggling to arrest the killer, Pendragon under pressure from his superiors, etc.), but the novel is a fun and enjoyable read. While not exactly in the same vein as THE DA VINCI CODE and its many imitations, it will certainly appeal to fans of that genre and its mix of historical and modern-day crime is enough to keep it interesting. The gore factor will also play a key role: the deaths are played out in a particularly graphic and gruesome fashion, with projectile vomiting and all sorts.

Overall, THE BORGIA RING is a good tale and worth a read.

Reviewed by Luke Croll, October 2009

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Contact: Yvonne Klein (ymk@reviewingtheevidence.com)

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