This apparently is a saga of one man’s maturation and journey into the hallowed halls of Templar-like intrigue and save-the-world, one crisis at a time events. Unfortunately, having hopped onto the train three stops in, I wallowed under the weight of backstories only guessed at, relationships that made little to no sense, and an urgency and agency that bewildered rather than caught my interest or fancy.
That said, this particular novel has some major issues independent of whether or not I came late to the party. While I will give serious props to having a variety of characters (gender, sexual orientation, etc) in this story, all of whom supposedly bring something to bear to the organization, the fact of the matter was lack of a clear protagonist despite this being a Jan Phillips novel. When you have a very large ensemble cast, it’s important for each actor on the stage to have a unique identity, to have a clear “voice” and a very particular set of skills by which the reader can tell one from the other.
Sparkles suffered under the weight of monotone characterizations, unrealistic insta-love, and a nearly bipolar, whiplash hopscotching between passable action sequences (with the Mossad agent) and cobbled together, fade to black romantic elements.
I needed to like and/or care about at least one character. Sadly to say, I never could latch onto one.
The plot is also all over the map, with cut-away scenes and snapshot sequences that failed to unify the overall “mystery” to be solved (and to label this as a “cozy” mystery? Um, no). The ending was rushed, with the resolution occurring off stage, hearsay style. It lacked urgency and direction, and most certainly did not fulfill the mandate for a thriller/suspense genre.
I will give it a couple thumbs-up for authentic location details and for the action set piece, despite the questionable use of misdirection, however well-intentioned.
I’m going to say, not to my taste with this one. It’s probably best to read the series in sequence. 3 Stars.
A life cut short; unsolved robberies plaguing Philadelphia’s Jeweler’s Row; a cryptic message scrawled on a paper napkin; a Romanov prince; a young man held captive in Iran; a terrorist cell bent on revenge; and an opera company due to mount a rarely performed production of Handel’s Alexander’s Feast. What do these have to do with Jan Phillips?
One plunges Jan into a prolonged sadness. One leads him on a race to prevent a nuclear disaster. One offers Jan the promise of renewed love. One leads him to reluctantly wield his power as a Mundus master. One is bent on shattering thousands of lives beyond repair, while one unknowingly holds the key to the mystery that has baffled Philadelphia’s finest. Follow Jan as he untangles this Gordian knot that will alter his life in a way he never thought possible.