Thursday, 27 June 2013

Crime Fiction Week Guest Review: Tom Harper - The Orpheus Descent

Reviewed by Lisa Redmond

I have never written down the answers to the deepest mysteries, nor will I ever... The philosopher Plato wrote these words more than two thousand years ago, following a perilous voyage to Italy -- an experience about which he never spoke again, but from which he emerged the greatest thinker in all of human history.

Today, twelve golden tablets sit in museums around the world, each created by unknown hands and buried in ancient times, and each providing the dead with the route to the afterlife. Archaeologist Lily Barnes, working on a dig in southern Italy, has just found another. But this tablet names the location to the mouth of hell itself.

And then Lily vanishes. Has she walked out on her job, her marriage, and her life -- or has something more sinister happened? Her husband, Jonah, is desperate to find her. But no one can help him: not the police and not the secretive foundation that sponsored her dig. All Jonah has is belief, and a determination to do whatever it takes to get Lily back.

But like Plato before him, Jonah will discover the journey ahead is mysterious and dark and fraught with danger. And not everyone who travels to the hidden place where Lily has gone can return.

I was delighted to be given the chance to do a guest review for Shaz’s Book Blog as it has introduced me to a new author I really liked. This is my first encounter with Tom Harper which surprises me as he has written a number of historical mystery novels and his books will appeal to fans of Kate Mosse and Manda Scott.

The Orpheus Descent is a dual time mystery following the philosopher Plato as he journeys to Italy to meet a friend and discovers a tiny golden orphic tablet; the secret to a life changing mystery, before returning home to write the texts which made him famous. The book is also the story of Lily an archaeologist who while working at a dig in Italy discovers a tiny golden tablet and her husband Jonah who arrives at the dig to find that Lily has disappeared. The story follows Plato and Jonah on their separate but parallel journeys across Greece and Italy and the plot includes Greek Mythology, the riots and unrest in modern Greece and the secretive group of university friends who might know more about Lily’s disappearance than they are pretending too. My only criticism is that the climax of the story is a little drawn out stretching over a number of chapters, although it leads to a satisfying conclusion.

If you enjoy time slip and dual time fiction, historical fiction or just a great literary thriller than this is for you. I will certainly be seeking out more of Tom Harper’s novels. Thanks to Sharon for letting me do a guest post on her blog. If you are interested in Gothic, Historical and Fantasy fiction then check out my blog

I'd like to thank Kerry at Hodder & Stoughton for sending us a copy of this book.

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