Book review: The Alchemist's Secret - Scott Mariani
Where there’s Hope there’s trouble…
THE ALCHEMIST’S SECRET introduces hero Ben Hope, a former elite SAS soldier tortured by a tragedy from his past, who now devotes his life to rescuing kidnapped children.
But when Ben is recruited to locate an ancient manuscript which could save a dying child, he embarks on the deadliest quest of his life.
The document is alleged to contain the formula for the elixir of life, discovered by the brilliant alchemist Fulcanelli decades before. But it soon becomes apparent that others are hunting this most precious of treasures – for far more evil ends. It seems that everyone – from the Nazis of the past to the shadowy modern organisation known as Gladius Domini – wants to uncover the secrets of immortality.
Teaming up with attractive American scientist Dr Roberta Ryder, Ben is led on a wild and dangerous trail from Paris to the ancient Cathar strongholds of the Languedoc, where an astonishing secret has lain hidden for centuries…
The Alchemist's Secret is a fast paced thriller that takes you across France, searching for a centuries old mystery while being hunted down by a small army of professional killers.
Ben's motivation behind this dangerous - and what sometimes seems or feels to be futile - quest, is the life of a little girl. By uncovering this ancient knowledge he hopes to find a cure that will save her. A noble goal, but for some reason that motivation or urgency didn't translate - nor did it feel real.
The story is fast paced in the sense that things happen in quick succession to one another. But for the entire novel I felt like I was a bystander, seeing things unravel from a distance rather than feeling involved. Although some details about Ben's past are revealed, they're just not enough to make you, as a reader, feel as if you know the character. The same goes for Roberta. There's potential there for an awesome team, but it felt as if the author was too busy killing off hired killers and planning attacks on their lives, than to actually invest in his main characters.
The book showed an interesting and 'forgotten' part of history and takes you on an adventure - one that's covered in mystery and bloodshed.