SanctusYou shouldn’t judge a book by its cover the adage goes, but sometimes I can’t help it. Or at least I can be swayed by the blurb on the flyleaf as I was when I picked up Sanctus in our local Waterstones.

“The certainties of the modern world are about to be blown apart by an ancient conspiracy, nurtured by blood and lies…” it read, promising “an apocalyptic conspiracy thriller like no other” and I took the bait.

Sanctus is the debut novel by Simon Toyne and is mostly set in the fictional town of Ruin that sits in the shadow of the Taurus Mountains in Turkey. At the heart of the town is an ancient citadel and a religious order which guards and even more ancient secret.

So far so Dan Brown and Sanctus does follow the winning formula of fast paced action and short chapters that both draw you in and make it easy to read.

Toyne writes well, but there a number of things that jarred, such as the way that the Turkish police acting and speaking as if they were in New York or Chicago, rather than provincial Turkey. Perhaps they do after watching too much US tv, but I somehow doubt it.

The characterisation worked in parts, but some things were left unexplained. For example, the main character is an identical twin, except her twin is male. Not only that, but they were cojoined twins. These facts are meant to be significant, but I’m unsure why.

I guessed early that the “secret” would prove to be rather silly and Sanctus didn’t let me down, but it is credit to Toyne’s writing that I stuck around to find out.

Three out of five stars on my review scale.

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