Previous reviews are at Mack Pitches Up

Saturday, June 8, 2013

The Diabolist by Layton Green

Someone is killing the leaders of satanic cults, some by fire, others found dead in locked rooms. Viktor Radek, professor of religious phenomenology and expert on cults, is asked to investigate by Interpol. Each of the doomed cult leaders received a letter telling them to renounce their beliefs or die. The death's defy reason—a figure in a black robe with silver stars, the sign of a Magus, appears during a black mass, the High Priest goes up in flames, the Magus disappears. With other letters being delivered, Viktor and his assistant Dominic Grey split up conducting their investigations in the US, England, France, and Sicily. The investigation becomes personal for Viktor as a painful episode in his past surfaces to haunt him, sending him to his bottle of absinthe too often. The adversary is deadly and Radek and Grey are fighting not only for the lives of other cult leaders but their own as well.

This is the third Dominic Grey/Viktor Radek action thriller, the first two being The Summoner and The Egyptian. It isn't exactly a stand-alone but can be read first without confusion. The author works in events from the other books (particularly The Summoner) to give a new reader context.

The appeal these books have for me is that they provide both intellectual content as well as intense action. Grey is former Marine Recon and a martial arts experts who spent many years around the world fighting in underground, non-sanctioned, no-holds-barred bouts. this experience serves him well when he has to fight for his life in the sewers of Paris or dingy London back streets. I enjoy the way the author choreographs the fights, the reader can visualize what is happening.

Viktor Radek provides the intellectual component of the story. As a religious phenomenologist he isn't concerned about the truths of religious belief but what the believer believes. The subject of evil is a constant theme: what is it; is it subjective or objective; can you define it; can you recognize it? If you are like me and fascinated by cults, this is great stuff. Even if you aren't, the author gives you something to think about, maybe even challenge your own beliefs. Dominic represents the everyman skeptic and Viktor the intellectual (not that Dominic isn't extremely intelligent in his own right) and their discussions frame the discussions about the nature of evil.

Regardless of the topic, this isn't supernatural thriller. The author leaves it open as to that happens. Some things are explained, others, well...we may never know.

The Diabolist is a good read with its intelligent plotting and driving action. This is a series I intend to follow.

This review is base on an uncorrected proof.