A sunken secret. A missing woman. A race against time. Former SAS major Ben Hope is relaxing at his home in Normandy when he hears the worst news of his life. His ex-girlfriend Dr Brooke Marcel has been kidnapped.
Racing against the clock, Ben’s frantic search for Brooke leads him from Ireland to the Spanish mountains and the rainforests of Peru. What is the mysterious link between the kidnapping, the salvage of a sunken 16th-century Spanish warship and the secret activities of its wealthy discoverer? As the trail of wreckage and mayhem intensifies, Ben soon uncovers a web of intrigue, corruption and brutal murder. But will he be too late to find Brooke alive?
Although the eighth adventure for our intrepid hero and incidentally my second, Ben Hope is back but this time it’s personal, very personal. The Armada Secret has a completely different feel to his previous title – The Sacred Sword – and is a much darker affair that had me gripped from beginning to end with a slick narrative, accomplished plot and colourful characters.
If you like a book that has an enigmatic leading man, a little rough around the edges, loyal to his friends and likes a drink or two, combined with an evil villain who appears to have a screw loose then this is your type of book.
There were a number of murders that left me feeling a little uncomfortable, uncomfortable in the act and in the imagination; this is a strength, not a weakness, it really does make you take a step back and think that the villain is capable of anything. This is what made the book feel so different to me, it’s an edgy read. The man behind the carnage has no scruples, he lacks emotion – unless it involves a woman – and he lacks feeling, stopping at nothing to ensure he gets what he wants. The problem is he just so happens to have gone a step too far this time and Ben Hope is on his trail.
I do enjoy my conspiracy thrillers and archaeological discoveries and even though The Armada Secret would be classed as such if I were to be hyper critical the mystery part of the book was over far too quickly for me. I wanted a little more intrigue and more history on the sunken treasure but before you know it the discovery is announced and we move on to the main storyline, that of rescuing Brooke.
The fight to save Brooke is well thought out however and Scott Mariani introduces a number of key bit characters that help Hope along the way. There was a point when the protagonist is up to his eyes in snow that the book really came to life for me. The author introduces us to another player and it was at this point my imagination ran away and I really hoped he would play a substantial role in the book alongside Ben Hope. Whether he did or not I’ll leave it up to you to find out but suffice to say it’s an interesting development in the plot.
The narrative is both strong and fluid and along with an intelligent plot and imaginative locations it makes The Armada Secret a must read. Although part of an established series the book can be read as a standalone but you do miss a little depth with character development and backstory if you don’t.
- Paperback: 406 pages
- Publisher: Avon (9 May 2013)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0007398433
- ISBN-13: 978-0007398430