The Lost Throne (2008) & The Prophecy (2009)
Here is an author who proves that self-publishing can work. His debut novel”The Plantation” faced rejection until Chris Kuzneski self-published. The result? A book which attracted much attention and praise from his fellow adventure genre authors, a literary agent came on board and there was a publishing deal. Nine books on and this American author is one of the consistent sellers in this genre. So far there have been two series – his first eight feature Payne and Jones, the next two and his forthcoming “Prisoner’s Gold” (published this October) form his “Hunter Series” for which film rights have been sold. I have read two of the Payne and Jones (books numbers 4 and 5). I’m not a huge fan of reading books mid-series, nine times out of ten I have to start from the beginning but I have made an exception for Mr Kuzneski and I don’t think my reading experience has been too compromised by this!
What these two books do tell me that this author is not too far off the best in the adventure genre. In “The Lost Throne” there is the odd reference to previous cases, but this did not get in the way too much. We get two main narrative strands which converge in the last third of the book on the Greek monastic isle, Mount Athos. Nick Dial, an Interpol officer is investigating the grisly beheadings of a set of Greek monks in one narrative strand and in the other two ex-members of an elite Special Forces Unit (Payne & Jones) get a series of distressed phone-calls from a man who ends up the victim of a hitman in Russia. There’s lost treasure, a startling group of Spartans viciously defending their culture and the pace cranks up nicely with some good moments of tension and some nicely rounded characters. Once the two narrative strands meet at Mount Athos I felt a slight let-down as the novel lost some of its energy but this remains a good example of this genre.
This was pretty much how I felt about the next in the Payne and Jones series, “The Prophecy” where the standard is maintained. There is a switch around in the emphasis- I felt that Payne and Jones had the slightly weaker narrative strand last time round but here they get star billing with Dial moving to the ranks of minor character. People are being killed over a piece of parchment, which turns out to be the work of Nostradamus and greater riches are implied in his words. It reads well, is easy to follow and maintains its enjoyment level throughout. I would be very hard pushed to say which of the two books I preferred, which suggests a level of consistency which bodes well for the rest of the series.
The Lost Throne (2008) and The Prophecy (2009) are both published by Penguin.