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Monday, 9 December 2013

‘The Camelot Code’ by Sam Christer

Published by Sphere, 
26 September 2013.   
ISBN: 978-0-7515-5091-7

When a book unexpectedly becomes a huge bestseller, it almost invariably opens the door to a whole lot more on a broadly similar theme; google da Vinci Code bandwagon and you’ll find literally hundreds of crime novels based on a what-if premise around legends, codes and puzzles.

On the face of it, The Camelot Code is one – but not entirely. The author has taken the what-if premise, applied it to the legendary superheroes who lie at the heart of British mythology, King Arthur and his band of knights, and added in the very real 21st century issue of terrorism.

The action moves between various well-drawn locations in the USA, London and mid-Wales on this side of the Atlantic, and even takes a short hop to the Isle of Lundy. At the centre of the plot is feisty FBI agent Mitzi Fallon, who is determined to get past near-impenetrable barriers of bureaucracy and diplomatic immunity in pursuit of a murderer.

She gains possession of a memory stick which belongs to a secret cadre of highly trained operatives who base their high standards on the moral code of King Arthur’s knights (and some of who are descended from those knights, but let’s not over-complicate things). As a result she finds herself pitting her wits against charismatic Owain Gwyn, leader of the Arthurian cadre. He is concerned with a much bigger picture, of which Mitzi’s murder investigation is only a small part: a terrorist plot which will undermine the cadre’s very existence as it rocks the entire world.
Consequently Mitzi ends up where many law enforcement officers, especially fictional ones, find themselves uncomfortably teetering: on the fine line between rule of law and genuine justice. And then it gets personal...

The result is a tremendous pacy narrative peopled with a large cast of colourful, sharply-drawn characters and underpinned by an up-to-date take on an old story which, give or take a few clunky parallels and occasional elements which require disbelief to be completely suspended, mostly makes sense in its modern context. The stakes are breathtakingly high, but all too credible in the light of almost daily real-life news reports of terrorist activity and lower-level mayhem which the ‘official’ law enforcement and diplomatic agencies seem unable to stem.

By the end, I found myself thinking not so much what if as if only.
Reviewer: Lynne Patrick

Sam Christer is the author of The Turin Shroud and The Stonehenge Legacy

Lynne Patrick has been a writer ever since she could pick up a pen, and has enjoyed success with short stories, reviews and feature journalism, but never, alas, with a novel. She crossed to the dark side to become a publisher for a few years, and is proud to have launched several careers which are now burgeoning. She lives on the edge of rural Derbyshire in a house groaning with books, about half of them crime fiction.

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