Through the power of social networking (thank-you Rachel Rayner (@thecrimedesk) and Twitter), I managed to get my hands on an advance reading copy of Simon Toyne’s Sanctus. And I’m glad I did. As ever, I have a half-dozen books in my ‘to read’ pile, and after having a quick read of the first chapter, this book jumped the queue.
Sanctus is Simon Toyne’s first novel – apparently the first in his Ruin (a fictional Turkish city) trilogy.
The theme is a religious conspiracy: a man using his death at the start of the book as the clue to unravelling an age-old religious mystery, the protagonist having to unlock clues whilst evading assassin monks. And the big reveal at the end is a shocking twist.
Sound familiar? Well, summarised like that, there’s no denying the thematic similarities with the Da Vinci code, but Sanctus is a very different book. Now don’t get me wrong – I loved the Da Vinci Code, but I loved Sanctus more. Probably helped by the fact that Toyne is a great writer. Too often are books described as page turners, but this one really is. Characters are well-developed, without being ‘over-egged’ and chapters are short, averaging about 3 or 4 pages, which gives you an idea of how fast the story (and action) proceeds. And Toyne manages to weave explanatory text effortlessly into the story – a lesson that some well-established bestselling authors could do with learning!
HarperCollins blurb to the bookseller says Sanctus is their biggest Fiction launch of the year. They’ve made a good choice. I think we’ll be seeing Simon Toyne’s name on the bestseller list before long.