When humanoid bones are found in a remote dig in Israel, scientists start going missing. Ex war correspondent Ethan Warner is called in to conduct a missing persons search for Lucy and keep it under the radar to prevent derailing the peace talks between Israelis and Palestinians. However he must take with him Lucy’s desperate mother, Rachel, and keep her safe in a troubled land. It soon becomes clear that there’s more to these bones than meets the eye. Why are they so important? Are they the bones of our ancestors, a fallen angel or could it be an extra-terrestrial life-form?

Now, I’ll freely admit to avoiding “conspiracy thrillers” like the plague. Unfortunately, publishers market them as Dan Brown wannabes which just doesn’t appeal to me but I know I’m being prejudiced. As I was sent a copy to review, and I’m all for giving every genre a shot, I’d thought I’d better see what I was missing out on. To be fair, the blurb says it’s more like Michael Crichton and it does have a science element. Although when the science or history just got interesting it would seem to stop and carry on with the plot. Being over 600 pages long, I certainly wouldn’t have wanted extra pages, so I think Crawford is just trying to fit in too much.

Saying that, it is a pacy read so you’ll soon whizz through those pages. There are a lot of characters too and I found myself getting confused a little with who’s who, a side effect of not enough time spent of developing their personalities. It was also lacking a bit in emotion when people, who you’re supposedly meant to care about, die. Description was spent on the actual physicality of their deaths rather than the after-effects. This probably isn’t a concern to regular thriller readers and possibly what puts me off them.

With so many characters and things going on, you start to feel the story is being wrapped up when there’s 200 pages left to go, yet each character seems to get their own ending. Along side Ethan’s adventures in Israel, there is a police investigation running back in Washington DC. I enjoyed this side of it though it also suffered from over-population of characters.

It’s positive to see a book that tackles Christian extremist views at a time when everyone thinks it’s only other religions that harbour fundamentalists. The evangelical pastor is a rather scary character, and whilst taken to extremes here, there are people like him in the world.

There is a follow-up novel next year, Elixir, and I’d be tempted to know how Ethan gets on with the search for his wife, who disappeared in Israel years earlier. I shall have to wait and see how many pages it’s got! Thanks go to Simon & Schuster for sending me a copy to review. This is Dean Crawford’s first novel and is currently available in paperback and ebook editions.