The Sanctuary – Raymond Khoury

The Sanctuary Raymond KhouryMy version: Paperback
Genre: Fiction
Published by: Orion Books, Hachette Livre
First published: 2007
(Originally published in the US under the title Sanctuary)

From the cover:

Portugal, 1705. In the dungeons of a Templar castle, a dying old man bequeaths an ancient, half-burnt book to his young inquisitor. Keeping one step ahead of those who would kill to wrench the book’s secret from his hands, the inquisitor turns his back on his calling and sets off on an impossible journey to complete the old man’s quest.

Baghdad, 2003. A military unit makes a horrifying discovery: a hidden state-of-the-art lab, where dozens of men, women and children have died. The scientist they were hunting is believed to be working on a bioweapons programme. But the man known only as the hakeem – the doctor – has escaped, taking with him the startling truth about his work…

A rattling good read for the most, though ultimately a disappointment.

For four fifths of the book, I was captured, but the final sections did seem to let the previous chapters’ side down.

Maybe I shouldn’t be surprised, as it took a while for the book to let on – or was it that I was just slow on the up-take? – as to what it all turned on. Once I knew this, then it all enters the realms of fantasy.

With others of this genre, where they’re looking for treasure or secrets buried, or lost, in ancient times, usually with a religious connection; you can think ‘well, that could happen.’ ‘Maybe it did happen like that?’ ‘Wouldn’t it be interesting if that was the case?’ ‘Maybe there is a secret sect that know the answer.’ With that kind of book, the author has done his/her research, come up with a theory and the book is in some way or other, a speculation of what might have happened, clothed in historical ‘facts’, that support such speculation. With The Sanctuary, once the object of their searching was obvious, I was ‘yeah, right’. Then, when the search was over, the aim reached, the ‘thing’ found, it failed to carry me with it and I found it a bit of a let-down. I could see them all walking and fading away into a golden sunset, bright clouds around them, up-lifting classical music playing in the background. Personally, I think it might have made more sense if whatever they were searching for, had stayed out of reach, stayed lost – but still tantalisingly findable. A bit like life.

There were however, some interesting ideas broached underway, some interesting speculation and question about our lives, our humanity what it is and perhaps what it could be. The action sequences were good, convincing and tense and that’s pretty much what I’ll remember this one for, rather than the final – for me – unsatisfactory ending.

You can buy The Sanctuary from The Book Depository

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