That feeling that one day you’re gonna want those hours back. The hours you spent on this one after the first time it was clear that this one turned on nasty people, with tails. After you immediately then thought, ‘well, how do they sit down?’ ‘Do they only ‘mate’ with others with tails?’ ‘How do they find them?’ Etc.
You can dress it up all you like with scenes set in the Roman period of Nero’s Emperorship (yes, he was as well), or sections based around (yes, him too) Christopher (though acting more like Philip) Marlowe and of course, his fantastic play ‘Dr.Faustus’. Which, coincidentally, I studied at school and can actually still quote, for example “for the vain pleasure of four and twenty years, hath Faustus lost eternal joy and felicity”. Which I think of often, now that I live in Denmark, because the Danish method of counting, from twenty onwards, is ‘one and twenty, two and twenty, three and twenty, four and twenty…’ and so on. You can dress it up all you like but what you’ve still got is a tale, set in Italy, in Rome, of a Nun who used to be an archaeologist, called in to investigate a find in the catacombs, of people, from the time of the birth of Christianity, who have tails. And because they are skeleton remains and it’s obvious they have tails, so they are boney tails, you wonder again, ‘how did they sit down?’ ‘What kind of trousers have they got on, that must clearly hide the fact of the afore-mentioned tail?’ Why are people with tails all, always nasty? Because they have tails?’ Instead of getting yourself involved in the book, in what I guess he would really want you to get yourself involved in.
To be brutally fair, there are passages that work well, that pack a punch, that at least make you curious about what might come next. And any book that has Christopher Marlowe in it, is worth having a look at (no, he wasn’t. Shakespeare wrote Shakespeare). There could have been some other interesting angles developed. Actually, the sections involving Marlowe and Nero are reasonably interesting. But as such, are a missed opportunity to make the sections, the main part of the story, set in the here and now, more powerful. The story in the here and now is a bit of a let-down in comparison, and the book kind of peters out into a disappointingly run of the mill, race against time to prevent disaster.
Read if it’s one of the three books you have with you on your desert island. Otherwise, don’t.