Here is the first female author with a review in my Running Man section of action and adventure novels. It is certainly a male-dominated field and breaking the mould here is Spanish author Julia Navarro who in 2007 produced a book which fulfils all the criteria for this category. This is the first of her two books along similar lines (the second is “The Book Of Clay”) which have been translated into English. She has now written five novels. The last two seem more focused on historical saga than action/adventure. I have not yet read any of her other works. Navarro is also a journalist with non-fiction books to her credit and a well-known political analyst in her home country.
This book starts off very well indeed with the Arts Crime Department investigating a series of fires at Turin Cathedral where the Holy Shroud is held. Added to this are tongueless mutes who seem to be linked to these incidents .
Detail from the Turin Shroud
This provides an exciting first half of the novel as the author seems to be giving the best of the male authors in this genre a run for their money. Unfortunately, however, about mid-way through things start to go awry. It’s the Knight Templars that do it. They are introduced into the plot because of their involvement with the Holy Shroud and Navarro gets carried away with giving us too much historical detail without managing to incorporate this into the unfolding story. This drags the book down for me. It is a pitfall of the genre and Navarro is yet another victim. She does, however, manage to avoid one of the other pitfalls which is the anti-climatic resolution. All too often in this genre, the threat of the end of the world fizzles out with a discovery of some artefact which is then discovered not to have the power it is believed to have, leaving the reader with a sense of deflation and a feeling that loose ends have been left for no real purpose. In “The Brotherhood of The Holy Shroud” there is a satisfactory resolution, even though to get there she does kill or maim a surprising number of her main characters, making sequels unlikely!
The Brotherhood Of The Holy Shroud was published by John Murray in 2007