The Alchemist’s Secret by Scott Mariani is a fast-paced thriller and can be, as the back cover suggests, compared to the better stuff written in a similar vein by Dan Brown, Kate Mosse and Robert Ludlum.
Ben Hope is tough as they come, a former member of the elite British SAS outfit, who has never come to terms with a childhood tragedy in which he lost his younger sister. He desperately tries to redeem the situation by rescuing kidnapped children. That he can be downright ruthless with kidnappers is revealed in the second chapter of his exciting book itself.
The book has a scary start with a priest being startled on a dark rainy night by a stranger in a tattered shirt soaked in blood, grasping an ornate knife in his hand, the long slim blade dripping with blood. The man has long deep gashes cut into his emaciated body, not random slashes, but patterns, shapes, symbols, crusted in blood.
Ben embarks on a journey to France, after accepting a contract to find a rare manuscript of an alchemist, Fulcanelli, believed to contain a formula of the elixir of life. There is hope that the elixir will help to save the life of a young girl who is suffering from a rare degenerative disorder and is soon to die of her illness unless Ben can get find and retrieve the manuscript. He realises that he is being followed, and has a violent run-in with an antagonist who jumps to his death off the Notre Dame when cornered near a parapet high up in the structure.
Ben teams up with an American scientist, Dr. Roberta Ryder, who is conducting her own research into alchemy, and they both end up becoming targets of a secret catholic organisation, Gladius Domini, which sends its executioners after them.
There are brutal murders of all those who fail to stop Ben and Roberta. The secret organisation is headed by an archbishop who is also desperately trying to get his hands on the manuscript for his own evil reasons – to start a crusade against the Islamic world.
The action-packed adventure runs across France, to the ancient Cathar strongholds of the Languedoc in the south of France, for another confrontation with a formidable and dangerous adversary.
The Alchemist’s Secret
By Scott Mariani