Book review: The Apocalypse Fire (Ava Curzon Series)

Dominic Selwood (Corax, October 2016)
Paperback 384pp ISBN 978-0992633271

This is the second in a trilogy of well-researched, historical, religious thrillers featuring heroine Dr Ava Curzon, ex-secret service turned museum curator, a sort of cross between Harry Palmer and Lara Croft

Dominic Selwood, a former criminal barrister, is one of many authors who has jumped on to the Dan Brown bandwagon, and he exhibits a similar no-frills style, but with a taut and tight rendition of action prose more rewarding than the much-maligned Brown.

Last time, in the hugely successful The Sword of Moses, Ava was engaged by American intelligence to track down African militia claiming to hold the Ark of the Covenant, which brings her up against the shadowy and sinister Knights Templar and neo-Nazis. In The Apocalypse Fire, Ava is engaged by British intelligence to track down a bunch of weaponised monks who steal the Turin Shroud, which catapults Ava into the murky world of The Order of Malta and an apocalyptic Russian cult. For the final book in the trilogy, I have it on good authority that Kim Jong-un is plotting a taking without consent on the Vatican’s much-coveted Popemobile.

The problem is that book two is more than a little similar to book one in structure and subject matter. It even opens the same, with a hapless and helpless guardian of religious artefacts being brutally tortured by the villains, who do away with the loot, before we break into the introduction of our heroine in the second chapter. Da Vinci déjà vu all over again. But if you have a successful formula, why not stick with it?

The plot is industry-standard, and the characters struggle to get into the second dimension, but the story moves with the pace and grace of a Hollywood screenplay in waiting. (Surely Selwood must be getting an offer for the film rights soon.) The author certainly knows his target audience and this sequel earns its place in any self-respecting airport departure lounge. If you enjoy this sort of holiday reading, and lots of people do, then pick up a copy, and another two thousand years of religious conspiracy will just fly by. 

Reviewer Georgina Blower, Farringdon Chambers and Counsel Editorial Board

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