‘When would everyone just drop the Masonic conspiracy thing?’
Antoine Marcas is both a Freemason, and a detective. Which is just as well because, when serving as the grand expert for an initiation ceremony, he enters the chamber of reflection to find the initiate dead in a pool of blood. The murderer, he quickly finds, is another Freemason.
The story jumps backwards in time to 1355, where Nicolas Flamel a scribe, is closing his shop. An execution is about to take place, and riots are feared. A Jewish person is about to be burned at the stake. Nicolas is dragged unwillingly to the scene of the execution. Nicolas’s new neighbour, Jehan Arthur, is a torturer and he involves Nicolas Flamel in taking a record:
‘I simply need a man who knows how to write what is being said and to forget what he has heard. Are you that man, Master Flamel?’
In the present, another Freemason is murdered, a priceless sword is stolen. There’s a clue pointing to a mystery, a hint about pure gold. And given the importance of gold and its role in the world economy, any likelihood of pure gold need to be explored. The clues point to the Statue of Liberty, and the Eiffel Tower. But what does it mean?
The novel shifts between 1355 and the present in short, sharp chapters that kept me reading to find out what would happen next. What’s the truth about the pure gold, and where do the events of 1355 fit in?
I enjoyed this novel: great escapist fiction, a conspiracy theory with a twist. One part, though, jerked me out of the story: did women really wear panties in 1355? I admit to being somewhat distracted by this, but it is of no great significance to the story.
Note: My thanks to NetGalley and Le French Book for providing me with a free electronic copy of this book for review purposes.