“The Last Testament” by Sam Bourne

The book opens amidst the looting of the Baghdad Museum of Antiquities, where we see an Iraqi boy who finds himself swept up in the crowd. Escaping the mob, he finds an ancient clay tablet in a hidden vault, which he feels must be valuable if it’s been locked away. We then skip forward a few years and witness the death of an archaeologist at a peace rally, who approaches the prime minister and is mistaken for an assasin reaching for a gun and is shot by bodyguards; it turns out he merely wanted to give the prime minister a letter. The result is that, instead of completing a peace deal between the Isrealis and the Palestinians, a series of revenge killings look set to disrupt and even destroy the peace process. Maggie Costello, an former negotiator is “persuaded” out of retirement to try and recover the talks, but as soon as she arrives, she starts to believe that the initial shooting was not just a mistake, so investigates the apparently random killings and is soon on a political, religious and very high risk quest to find the truth

I read Sam Bourne’s first novel, The Righteous Men last year as part of the Richard & Judy Summer Read book club, and liked it enough to try his latest thriller. This book would make a great beach read, as it’s an exciting, action-packed thriller. Although it’s about 560 pages, I managed to read it in three sittings, and really enjoyed it. Having said that, the chapters move around quite quickly, jumping back and forward in time, and I did find myself having to flick back to the previous chapter to check where I was in the sequence of events, but after a quick reminder, it was easy to understand where the plot was going. There are obvious comparisons between this author and Dan Brown, but for me, Sam Bourne wins hands down; at least his books are well written, even though nowhere near literary classics, they are enjoyable summer fodder, as opposed to The Da Vinci Code which I felt was poorly written, badly plotted and was extremely overhyped. So, overall, a good holiday page turner, but not too taxing on the brain.

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