Firstly, I have to say that the paranormal is not my genre and I was invited to review this book. I did so with some scepticism, but despite a slow start, I became fascinated by the plot which Richard Milton rolled out.
Tony Gabrieli, a hard-nosed journalist, receives a mysterious summons from a solicitor - this is a British book - upon the death of his mother. Unbeknownst to Tony, his mother was involved with a mysterious group called The Chadwick Foundation. Astonished to discover that his mother was far more than the suburban housewife she purported to be, he receives a file of papers and a box in which is something equally amazing. So, Tony is introduced to the science of physiognomy and the dangerous, deadly sexual ritual which could get him killed.
Using clever back story, the plot starts at the French Revolution and follows on to the Second World War, as Milton lures the reader into the paranormal underworld, where governments play with lives and highly connected men and women buy and sell unthinkable objects for priceless sums.
After Tony meets the fascinating Eve and is introduced into her circle, he – and the reader – finally begins to understand just what he is facing. The disgraced scientist, Cesar Casimir, leads Tony into a deadly maze where he is forced to use his hitherto unacknowledged precognitive skills to stay alive...is Eve his lover or his killer?
The book begins energetically, but it took awhile for me to work out what was going on. At first reading it appeared that Tony Gabrieli was an ordinary journalist chasing a story, but as the story progressed, I became aware of a strong sense of foreboding. As I got to know the main character, I began to have grave concern for his safety – a mark of the talent of Milton – and was soon swept into the by-plays and dangerous secrets with which the characters are engaged.
I would have liked to have known more about Gabrieli’s mother – how she became a trustee of the Chadwick Foundation – but this was only part I felt could have been explained further. I didn’t particularly like the character of Eve, though I suspect that she was supposed to have this effect on the reader.
Thoroughly enjoyed this well written and intricate story and thought the ending was the only way it could have happened. No spoilers here!