BRISTOL HOUSE. By Beverly Swerling. Penguin Group. 398 pages. $27.95.
Sometimes it’s enough that a book is just fun to read, even if you have to ignore that a lot of the plot lines are familiar.
“Bristol House” is about architectural historian Annie Kendall, hired by a Jewish foundation to trace artifacts from the Second Temple in Jerusalem from the time of Christ that they believe were discovered by a Jew in London in 1535.
From there, the story works in the ghost of a monk who also was a spy for Oliver Cromwell; strange artwork that might hide a message; codes derived from Jewish mysticism; and a suitably creepy and manipulative billionaire employer. Not to mention a chance-met love interest who looks just like the long-dead monk.
There’s intrigue and conspiracy at every turn, from the Knights Templar to World War II to present-day terrorism. Just about the only thing missing is Dallas’ book depository and grassy knoll, possibly because John F. Kennedy was assassinated on the wrong continent.
“Bristol House” is overly populated with cliched story lines, but they’re entertaining cliches. So just enjoy, and don’t think too much about it.
THE BROKEN PLACES. By Ace Atkins. G.P. Putnam’s Sons. 358 pages. $26.95.
By the end of “The Broken Places,” there’s a lot that needs fixing in Tibbehah County, Miss., but Ace Atkins’ story is not one of those things.
In the third book in this award-winning series, former Army Ranger and current sheriff Quinn Colson has a lot to deal with. His sister’s involved with an ex-con preacher who might or might not have the money that two escaped prisoners want back. Plus, there’s rampant corruption all around him and a surprise attack from Mother Nature.
It’s a well-written soap opera, heavy on the noir. The characters are tough and goal-oriented, and the plot has several twists and a couple of cliffhangers but very little mushy angst.
“The Broken Places” is less about overdone feelings and more about all the good guys doing the job and getting out alive. Some of the bad guys get it in the end, and some of them get away with their evilness, at least until the next book, which you’ll be eagerly awaiting.
Reviewer Carol Edwards is a freelance editor and farmer living in Marlboro County.