There are plenty of Da Vinci Code lookalikes on the market but if you prefer something with more style, check out Adam Blake’s cerebral thriller.
The Dead Sea Deception has all the now standard themes like early Christianity, evil cults, hidden artefacts and dangerous secrets but it is also has a superbly paced build-up, contains some spectacular twists and turns, sports a cast of truly nasty villains and the devilishly clever conundrum at its heart will leave you guessing all the way.
Add to that a writer (mysteriously billed as the pseudonym for a big gun British author) who knows how to make his story flow and fills it with fascinating history and facts, and you have all the ingredients for a classic, classy and fantastical adventure story.
Ambitious London police officer Heather Kennedy is finding her job difficult, not least because she is being harassed by fellow officers who, amongst other reasons, resent the fact that she is a lesbian.
When she is assigned to what appears to be a routine investigation into the accidental death of a lecturer at Prince Regent’s College, the autopsy comes back with some unusual findings.
Her enquiries link his death with that of other historians who were all working together on a project relating to a seemingly obscure and minor Dead Sea Scrolls codex.
The name Michael Brand frequently starts to appear but for reasons she cannot fathom, he appears to be an elusive character.
With flak coming from all directions back at the office, Kennedy plods on with her search and soon meets up with some internal resistance to both her investigation methods and the direction in which they are leading.
When the hunt brings Kennedy into contact with ex-mercenary Leo Tillman, a man with a serious chip on his shoulder, the action starts to hot up.
He is also on the trail of Michael Brand and the mysterious worldwide organisation to which he belongs. Tillman is convinced the organisation is responsible for the disappearance of his wife and three children thirteen years ago.
When the trail leads them to the Dead Sea Scrolls – and the deadly gospel hidden within them – Tillman and Kennedy must run for their lives from a band of sinister assassins who weep tears of blood and believe themselves descended from Judas.
These ‘fallen angels’ will stop at nothing to expose the world-changing secret of the Scrolls ... the devastating truth about who really died on Christ’s cross.
From a spectacular plane crash in the American desert to a brutal murder at a London university to a phantom city in Mexico, The Dead Sea Deception will grip you in its vice-like jaws to the very last breathless sequence.
Escapism at its very best...
(Sphere, paperback, £6.99)