Author: Philip Carter, 2011.
Genre: Conspiracy Thriller. Historical Mystery.
Other Details: ARC. 455 pages.
"They didn't have to kill him . . . he never drank from the altar of bones. I got it back."
This thriller opens with the fatal stabbing of a homeless woman in present day San Francisco. Before she dies she utters the above cryptic words. The narrative then moves back in time to a Siberian prison camp in 1937 as Lena Orlova, a young pregnant woman, stages a daring escape for herself and her lover. It is quickly revealed that she is the custodian of an ancient secret, the altar of bones, that many would go to any length to discover.
Back in the present two people are drawn into this deadly web: Ry O'Malley, a former federal agent whose father's death bed confession revealed a secret past, and Zoe Dmitroff, an attorney who recognises the murdered woman as someone she believed had died many years before. In typical thriller fashion these two attractive protagonists are plunged into a maelstrom of danger and intrigue that touches on one of the most notorious conspiracy theories of the Cold War era.
Without a doubt this was a fun, fast-paced thriller with a complex plot that didn't let up from the first page to the last. It is brimming with car chases, gun battles, assassinations, cryptic clues, world travel, twists and turns, betrayals, sexual tension and some interesting takes on Cold War politics and conspiracies. Thank you to Simon & Schuster for giving me the opportunity to read this in advance of its UK publication.
Philip Carter's web page - includes an excerpt as well a 'behind the scenes' section that details some of the real events that inform the novel.