Sunday, September 18, 2016

Political Thriller with Supernatural Twist: FORETOLD BY THUNDER, E. M. Davey

Here's a debut thriller that's clearly positioned in the Dan Brown subgenre: The abrupt death (by lightning strike) of an investigating professor leads to mysterious documents reaching journalist Jake Wolsey -- papers that point to a missing and highly significant ancient Etruscan manuscript. Jake soon discovers that his inquiry into the professor's death and the documents has made him a lightning attractor for the British Secret Intelligence Service. Partnering with a knowledgeable (and attractive) archaeologist, Florence Chung, Jake begins a risky race toward information that at the very least was valued by Winston Churchill ... and may affect the rise and fall of civilizations.

FORETOLD BY THUNDER is a fast-paced thriller, and fans of the subgenre will appreciate the detailed sense of history that E. M. Davey brings into the unfolding situations. Don't expect to bond deeply with the protagonist, though -- Davey's more interested in spinning a global and inclusive conspiracy theory, and less in the depth and motivations that spur Jake onward with his life at stake.

I particularly enjoyed the small interludes Davey tucks into his writing, not always essential to the plot but written with the eye of a good storyteller, like this:
It always made Jenny Frobisher smile to see Hollywood's depiction of a Secret Service incident room. There would be banks of glowing monitors, agents roaming around some 3D-rendered desert, satellites being repositioned at a moment's notice. The reality was somewhat different, Jenny thought, as she looked about her base of operations. Four computers, four telephones, whiteboard, kettle. The only impressive thing was the view of the Thames. She could make out a guide pointing up at them from the deck of a tourist ferry as he honed his James Bond spiel.
Then again, there are moments when Jake too takes an aside and it becomes critical to the plot:
This was the prophecy of the turning of the wheel. And the war of civilizations would go on.

Jake awoke, gasping for breath. For the second time he was disorientated. Was he still asleep? A dream within a dream? He sat up to find himself on a sofa in a pay-by-the-hour hotel room. ... the despair of its climax was all-pervasive. Something Florence had said about Etruscan faith came back to him.

A dark religion. Before the Gods man was a complete nonentity, his fate entirely in their hands.

Jake shook his head again ... his phone began to ring.

London calling.
Pick this one up for light reading and an intriguing conspiracy theory that stretches across millennia. And let's keep an eye out for how this debut author develops his series, via The Overlook Press.

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