Harper, Tom - 'The Lazarus Vault'
Tom Harper's latest offering is simply magical! Based upon the legend of the Holy Grail, it weaves a richly intricate tale, of love lost and gained, of mystery and intrigue, of battles and brave knights, and of honour. The story is divided into the past (the 12th Century) and the present and chapters alternate between the two. At the end of the book, when things really begin to heat up, the stories swap about every page or so within the chapters. This only adds to the attraction of the book, as you really want to find out what happens in both situations.
In the present we have Ellie, a somewhat unsure PhD student, who is headhunted by a mysterious, ancient, London bank, Monsalvat, and soon finds herself over her head in terms of workload pressure and other demands that the bank's manager puts upon her. She eventually finds herself totally belonging to her employers, with everything she does being followed and scrutinised.
Meanwhile, she is drawn towards the out-of-bounds vaults on Level Six. They hold a secret that, she discovers, to her horror, is connected to her own family history and her father's untimely death. She finds herself running to save herself, and those she holds dear, from the powers that are desperate to keep the secret in its place in the bank vaults. Ellie breaks into the vaults to find her destiny but also finds that this is just the beginning of her troubles.
The story in the past concerns a knight, Peter of Camros, otherwise known as Chretien de Troyes: a story-teller and adventurer who is seeking revenge for the death of his family and his one true love. He weaves a story about a beautiful woman carrying a golden serving bowl and a lance that drips blood, and begins the mystery of the Holy Grail that has gripped the West ever since.
Peter's and Ellie's stories are connected by the Grail and the lance: he hides them and she seeks them, as many before her have tried and failed. THE LAZARUS VAULT takes a refreshing new angle on an old subject (the Grail) and it does so extremely well. The story is pure fantasy and very easy to get lost in. Ellie's attractive job offer turns out too good to be true but her story is addictive as you wait for everything to fall around her, and Peter is one of those handsome brave knights that history is made of. You want him to succeed and feel his pain when he is injured in battle.
An excellent story with a fantastic ending: THE LAZARUS VAULT is guaranteed to make you smile.
Amanda C M Gillies, Scotland