Do you recall the name Michael Baigent, the author who sued Dan Brown for plagiarising his book The Holy Blood and the Holy Grail in the Da Vinci Code? He really must have thought that it was open season on him after losing that case so badly.
I mention this because I’ve just finished reading The Dead Sea Deception, a thriller by Adam Blake that all but lifts its title from another of Baigent’s books, omitting only the word ‘Scrolls’.
In fact, Blake’s work does not draw on any of Baigent’s ‘factual’ religious conspiracy theories as Blake has invented a fictional one all of his own, but the similarity of subject matter must have hurt.
Of the two, I’d have to opt for the Adam Blake version. It has all the themes you’d expect from the glut of religious conspiracy theories – hidden messages in the gospels, unspeakable secrets and murderous sects – the difference being that this one is so stylishly written, well-paced and plotted that disbelief is easily suspended.
The main character of the book is Heather Kennedy described as ‘an ambitious cop’ by the blurb, although ‘disgraced’ might be a better adjective. She refuses to cover-up for her colleagues when an armed response incident goes badly wrong and she is left to pick the dross assignments that no-one else wants.
One such is a case that is three weeks old, the apparently accidental death of an academic at Prince Regent’s College. But she begins to suspect that his fall down stairs isn’t quite the accident it appears to be.
What follows is a complex investigation that sees two of Kennedy’s partners killed, herself close to death and ultimately the loss of her job because the case is an enigma that she just can’t let go.
As I wrote last week, this is the book I should have read before setting about its follow-up, The Demon Code, but the story still gripped me, apart from knowing for certain that the heroes would survive some fairly comprehensive injuries.
The Dead Sea Deception is a book that would make a great film and an even better tv serial if you don’t mind your thrillers mired in ancient conspiracy. It is certainly worth a read.