The Alchemist’s Secret by Scott Mariani

The curse of Dan Brown lives on in this adventure novel as one man (and a woman he picks up along the way) battles against a church-related organisation to retrieve the secret of eternal life. By curse, I don’t mean that it’s a bad novel, just that it’s buried in amongst a lot of similar times since The Da Vinci Code became the book of the decade despite being possibly the worst-written of all its peers.

The Alchemist’s Secret isn’t one of the best in this genre, but it’s a far cry from the worst. The pacing is good, the story unwraps well and the dialogue’s not at all clunky (Dan Brown – kindly refer to this text before writing anything else as your dialogue sucks). However, where it does fall down is that it’s very, very predictable.

By the end of chapter three, if you’ve read any of this type of book or seen any Hollywood film of the last 40 years, you’ll have guess how several of the plot points work out. What’s important is that Mariani makes you care enough about the plot to follow it through until the inevitable happens.

As with many good books, there’s a large dollop of truth and history mixed in with the fiction. It’s interesting when you get to the Author’s Note to find out exactly how much. With luck it will even encourage the reader to take a quick delve into the non-fiction section of the bookshop to discover more. Or at least a trip to Wikipedia.

Not bad. Not a classic, but not bad. I’ll be keeping an eye out for The Amadeus Letter.

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