Sanctus by Simon Toyne (September 2012, William Morrow) I’m a fan of conspiracy theories, if only because I like the idea of alternate explanations and theories for what is so readily accepted as fact, especially when it pertains to religion and science. Toyne introduces a monk determined to expose an ancient church conspiracy, his sister who has long thought him dead, and the two opposing factions who want to reach the both of them for the means to their own ends. Sanctus is the first in a trilogy, and as such many of the character’s stories are still unfolding. I like that there are strong female characters mixed in with the usual suspect (church heads, curious detectives), an interesting story line and a surprise at the end that I did not see coming. The pace is a fast one, and Toyne’s cinematic writing makes this a visual read (and a visceral one, there were some rituals and autopsies performed that had me squirming), the scenes pop from the pages. Other than it being a tad long, I’m looking forward to the next books in the series.
Heavens Rise by Christopher Rice (October 15, Gallery Books) I had high hopes for this one which were mostly fulfilled. The ending is where it went wrong for me. Rice writes absorbing novels that feature nuance in the relationships where people are from different walks of life, but still interact with each other, forming friendships and rivalries. In The Heavens Rise, a young gay reporter and his older black mentor team up to get to the bottom of the mysterious events surrounding his best friend, who disappeared with her family shortly before the onslaught of Hurricane Katrina. This is an engaging and creepy read that I really enjoyed it up until the last quarter. There it took a turn that was entirely too fantastical for my taste. I wouldn’t warn anyone away, because I suspect this is likely a taste thing. Unfortunately the last bits colored (and spoiled) everything that came before for me, but it’s still a worthwhile consideration for a creepy reads line up.