Tom Knox is a young, London-born author who has written only three novels — "The Genesis Secret," "The Marks of Cain" and his latest, "The Lost Goddess."
If Knox keeps producing stories as scintillating as "The Lost Goddess," he has a bright future ahead of him. Knox has created a unique type of suspense novel, mixing science, history and religion into a fast-paced story that’s reminiscent of an "Indiana Jones" adventure.
"The Lost Goddess" begins with two separate stories that eventually merge into one, although some suspension of disbelief is required. Also, don’t leave your brain at home when reading this book.
The story begins with American archaeologist Julia Kerrigan, who is working on an important dig in a rural area of France. She stumbles across some skeletons full of holes and arrow wounds, indicating the victims had died a violent death. Kerrigan thinks she has the discovery of a lifetime.
"This marvelous cache, this trove of bones, this was her find, she had spent all summer waiting for something like this — she had spent fifteen years waiting for something like this."
But tragedy strikes. Kerrigan’s mentor and friend is murdered the next day. This sends her on a journey that she is not prepared for.
The other story takes place in Southeast Asia, where British travel photographer Jake Thurby lands a job with Chemda Tek, a gorgeous Cambodian lawyer whose eyes "were deep dark brown, like whiskey aged in sherry casks." He’s looking for some excitement, but gets more than he bargains for. Tek takes him to the Plain of Jars, a mysterious place in rural Cambodia that is linked to the Killing Fields, the massacre of 2 million people in the 1970s by the communist Khmer Rouge regime.
Thurby and Tek stumble across something that they shouldn’t have and quickly go on the run to avoid the authorities. Not surprisingly, Thurby falls in love with Tek but their relationship is complicated.
What ultimately brings the two stories together is an off-kilter killer who will stop at nothing to get what she wants. The prehistoric remains in France and the Cambodian site are apparently linked to genetic experiments involving the Chinese and Russians that have lasted for decades. The story takes a few wild turns and eventually the characters end up in Tibet, where more mysteries await.
Because he throws a lot of different elements into the plot, Knox sacrifices some character development in "The Lost Goddess." I’d like to know more about Kerrigan and Thurby, who play the roles of naive Westerners in what turns out to be a distinctly Asian tale.
But "The Lost Goddess" is a pulsating book that should satisfy readers who enjoy suspense and historical intrigue in their stories.