'I requested a review copy as I, too, before greyness struck was vaguely a redhead (sandy, I preferred; ‘Ginger Nuts’ my staff called me in private). Also it covers personal ground such as the lead character being a journalist, the paranormal and archaeology of the megalithic period. I was not disappointed.
Fiction is not normally my territory but a thriller sound like a change and fun to read. Dan Brownesque, it has a quest – to find out who or what was behind a spate of ritual murders as far apart as Orkney, Egypt and Easter Island, always involving redheads, plus the dangerous consequences of an impending reversal of the polar magnetism. Heroine Rebecca Burns is a flame-haired journalist who almost becomes a sacrificial victim herself to a bird-headed man wearing a loincloth in a remote cave after having encountered young girls with grinning skulls and dancing red-haired corpses.
The supernatural seriously kick in one-third of the way through and thereafter dominates the book. This incident was on Easter Island, where during her horrifying Inca ritual her blouse is ripped open before a ‘zombie’ saviour comes to her rescue. Fortean material peppers the book, such as mention of temporary lobe epilepsy, leys and interrupted transmission.
When a primitive cavemen appears it reminds Rebecca of a cartoon of Charles Darwin, a sickly pygmy-brained excuse for a human himself. But the caveman was a redhead and was in the vicinity of a russet fox. This recurring redheadedness is a primary feature and as the narrative progresses so does public animosity towards the ginger minority. Judas Iscariot and Cleopatra are claimed to be ‘carrot-tops’, which seems to stretch credulity farther than Rebecca’s unfeasibly unchallenged limitless globetrotting expenses account.
The book is flagged as fiction but should really be ‘supernatural’ or ‘occult’ fiction. It is well paced, plotted and the reader empathises with the heroine and her romantic interest and inter-office tensions. The tension is tautened by the strangeness of the mysterious Dr Neferatu (the name’s a giveaway, surely, being so similar to Nosferatu), who speaks only perfunctorily and gives nothing away, leaves all the food on his plate, has more second sight than good eyesight, ages ten years in as many days, would arrive from nowhere and then vanish. Is he linked to the sinister hawk which plays such a critical role?
I was intrigued by the character Larry cogitating that “it strikes me that the universe is not only stranger than we imagine, but stranger than we are capable of imagining”. Close to an aphorism wrongly attributed to Sir Arthur Eddington and almost what J B S Haldane did say, but was Larry being a plagiarist or the author? Whatever, it is a well enough concept and totally unoriginal.
That said, this is a rollicking rollercoaster read as the opacity clears and the excitement keeps upping a notch.'