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by Adam Blake
Sphere, August 2011
552 pages
6.99 GBP
ISBN: 0751545732

Buy in the UK | Buy in Canada

The assertion on the cover of this book, "Everything we know about the death of Christ is a lie…." may be an eye-catching blurb but it is very misleading. In fact, the book does not go into the death of Christ in any detail, although there is a very surprising – perhaps even a shocking - assertion about Christ on which the plot is based. It is impossible to consider this book without referring to and making a comparison with Dan Brown and THE DA VINCI CODE. They share plots which, whilst not identical, are similar – an age old secret which assumes contemporary importance, a group of people who are determined to ensure that it remains a secret and investigators determined to discover the truth. In answer to the question of whether this book is as good as THE DA VINCI CODE, it has to be said that it isn't. It is, in fact, much better.

This difference in quality is largely due to the willingness on the part of the author to take pains over character creation. Heather Kennedy is a London police detective whose career is going nowhere as a result of her male chauvinist colleagues. Her boss, a DCI who is lazy and concerned only with furthering his own career, hands her a case that had not been investigated properly originally and about which a complaint had been made. All he wants her to do is to go through the motions. Kennedy, however, together with her assistant, Harper, is not prepared to do this. It soon becomes obvious that there is a lot more to the case, which involves the death of a university professor. She teams up with an ex-mercenary, Leo Tillman, who has his own very personal reasons for becoming involved in the case. Kennedy, Tillman and, to a lesser extent, Harper are all very well drawn and in the case of the first two we are given a considerable amount of background information which enables us to see what sort of people they are.

The plot is well conceived and each episode seems to follow naturally from what went before. There are exciting incidents, particularly approaching the end of the book, but at the same time there is a lot of routine (but always interesting) investigative work. When a professor who has made a discovery based on a fifteenth century translation of the Gospel Of John is found dead, Kennedy soon comes to the conclusion that he has been murdered – a view strengthened when Harper informs her that two members of the professor's team, working on the same document, have also died suspicious deaths. When the fourth member of the team is killed before her eyes, Kennedy is determined to avenge the death and to find those responsible. – a task in which Tillman is more than happy to be involved. The story shifts backwards and forwards across the Atlantic and events move ever faster as the end approaches. The identity of the villain is revealed and there are hints – but only hints – of what he is attempting to achieve. The nightmarish quality of the ‘Messengers' he uses to carry out his plans is both chilling and convincing.

Intelligence, good characterisation and an imaginative plot combine to make THE DEAD SEA DECEPTION a delight for those who enjoy this kind of thriller.

§ Arnold Taylor is a retired Examinations Board Officer, amateur writer and even more amateur bridge player.

Reviewed by Arnold Taylor, September 2011

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Contact: Yvonne Klein (ymk@reviewingtheevidence.com)

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