Thursday, February 12, 2009

The Last Templar (book review)

I read The Last Templar by Raymond Khoury for Annie’s What’s In a Name - 2 challenge, in the profession category, “templar” being accepted to refer to a member of the Knights Templar or, interestingly enough, “a barrister or other person occupying chambers in the Temple, London.”

This book was just done as a made-for-TV movie, the reviews of which weren’t that good. While the book is no literary classic, as thrillers go, it wasn’t half bad. After a short introduction set in 1291, the present-day action opens with four masked horsemen dressed as Knights Templar riding into the Metropolitan Museum of Modern Art and stealing artifacts from a Treasures of the Vatican exhibit. The book’s heroine, archaeologist Tess Chaykin, sees the leader of the horsemen almost reverently steals only one item, a geared device, over which he says some Latin words. She decides to investigate on her own, at the same time as the official FBI investigation is headed by Sean Reilly, a terrorist specialist and, relevant to the plot, a practicing Roman Catholic. Separately at times, together at others, they discover what the stolen device was and its importance, before finding themselves in a race against the Catholic church to find the secret to which the device points.

If I had a bone to pick with The Last Templar, it would be that the characters, especially Tess Chaykin, were not too well developed. In particular, Tess is said to be an archaeologist, working at the Manoukian Archaeological Institute, yet she is always addressed as “Miss Chaykin” rather than “Dr. Chaykin.” It’s a small point, to be sure, but it would have been nice to have a bit more background on Tess and on Sean, to make them a bit more real. That aside, The Last Templar does offer a good escape into fiction for those needing a break from the everyday.

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