- Title The Alchemist's Secret
- Author Scott Mariani
- Year 2011
- Genres Thriller, Mystery, Adventure, Action
A former élite member of the SAS, Ben is tortured by a tragedy from his past and now devotes his life to finding kidnapped children. When Ben is recruited to locate an ancient manuscript which could save a dying child, he embarks on the deadliest quest of his life. The document is alleged to contain the formula for the elixir of life, discovered by the brilliant alchemist Fulcanelli decades before. But it soon becomes apparent that others are hunting this most precious of treasures - for far more evil ends. When the secrets of alchemy hidden within the pages remain impenetrable, Ben teams up with beautiful American scientist Dr Roberta Ryder to crack the code. It seems that everyone - from the Nazis during WW2 and powerful Catholic organisation Gladius Domini - wants to unearth the secrets of immortality. The trail leads Ben and Roberta from Paris to the ancient Cathar strongholds of the Languedoc, where an astonishing secret has lain hidden for centuries...
This was a surprisingly good thriller, I’ll be honest and say I wasn’t expecting too much because I’m sort of over the genre where an ancient something is detected through a series of puzzles so that the good guys get it before the bad guys do. This was that genre but it was a good story, told well, and a fun ride.
I feel like we could have got more character out of Ben Hope - he had the obvious trauma that dictated his day to day life, but until the very end, he felt quite removed, going through the motions almost. Maybe that was the way it was meant to be, and he had that breakthrough at the end, but it did mean I wasn’t quite as invested as I could have been.
I enjoyed the twists and turns, and the locations were good, the puzzles were solid although the less interesting part of the story for me. And as always with this type of book, it’s fun to know there’s at least an element of truth to the underlying myths.
Rating: 4 / 5