I have tried Raymond Khoury before. With blurb comparing him to Dan Brown I read “The Sanctuary” (2007) and it didn’t exactly blow me away. Modern day Beirut and Iraq was blended with eighteenth century Portugal in a complex plot about a search for the elixir of life. I felt that Khoury had really thrown too much into his plot in the first half of the book and the pace could not be sustained throughout, making the last third a bit of a drag and the whole thing a little wearying. Two years on from this Khoury produced a much more successful novel. Once again the plot is somewhat preposterous but the whole thing feels more authentic and by keeping things a little simpler it is more effective. The pace is sustained and we do not get that last third slump.
“The Sign” is a mysterious light which is spotted over Antarctica and which becomes commandeered by a group of Christian evangelicals. When it begins to follow a reclusive monk in Egypt, it is interpreted as proof for Christianity. Laying behind this is a desire to change the world, which, it is believed harnessing the religious fervour will do. There is a ploy to link this evangelicalism with environmentalism. People go missing, are murdered and are brainwashed along the way. It’s actually done very well and there is a more chilling plausibility to the potential power of religious fanaticism than to searching for the elixir of life. I’m pleased Khoury has upped his game with this novel and look forward to reading others by him.
The Sign was published in 2009 by Orion.