I feel kind of sorry for any author who dares to cover the material Dan Brown made famous with his unbelievable bestseller The Da Vinci Code. No matter how good their book might be, it will forever be compared to the Code, and that is both sad but expected. Screenwriter Raymond Khoury is the latest in a long (and growing longer) line of novelists attempting to do what Brown already did (and so much better). This time, The Last Templar takes us into similar territory, with a hidden secret of historical and monumental importance that begs to be found and made public, no matter how many bodies go down in the process.
With tons of historical flashbacks to ancient Jerusalem and the desperate quest of the Templars to survive and disperse, the story jumps to the present day and our plucky archeologist heroine, Tess Chaykin, who is at the wrong place at the wrong time when four knights on horseback stage an attack on the Metropolitan Museum of Art, setting off a mystery involving a strange device, an old Latin saying, and a mystery involving a possible hidden treasure that could literally change the world.
Tess, who is a mom to a daughter yet never seems to spend much time with her kid, instead embarks on a dangerous mission with an attractive but somewhat distant FBI agent, Sean Reilly, that will take her to the other side of the world and into some very deadly situations as she follows the clues to the Templar treasure.
Along the way, there is some romantic tension, plenty of murders and dead bodies, a host of suspicious characters, a plethora of history on the real Templars and the possible purpose they served, and a rollercoaster ride full of page-turning action and suspense that more than makes up for the cardboard characters and their lack of truly lusty passion for each other. I was a bit thrown by Tessís total disregard for her daughter in her quest for the Grail of all Grails, so to speak, and Reilly comes off as a bit too stiff for me to get behind him as a likeable cad I can cheer for. Still, characters are not what novels like this are all about.
Itís the story, stupid. And Khoury has written a truly visual story that will no doubt make a great movie someday, unless audiences tire of all things Code-ish. The problem again is that if you want to read about Templars and the Magdalene and the possible bloodline of Christ, you just canít do it better than Dan Brown. For books like this, it will always be a matter of trying to live up to something that has already been so amazingly well-done.
But, if you canít get enough of this stuff, and if you canít stand waiting for Brown to write his next blockbuster, The Last Templar will more than fill your chalice and provide you with some solid action and adventure to keep you intrigued and entertained into the wee hours of the night, frantically turning pages to find out what the ďtreasureĒ really is, after all.