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Crawford, Dean - 'Covenant'
Paperback: 672 pages (Nov. 2011) Publisher: Simon & Schuster Ltd ISBN: 0857204696

Dr Lucy Morgan, is an American palaeontologist who is working at a dangerous location in the Negev Desert in Israel near its border with Jordan. She discovers a tomb that has remained hidden for 7,000 years and it contains the body of an individual of unusual dimensions who did not evolve on Earth. Unfortunately, soon after the discovery, Dr Morgan disappears.

The plot then moves to Chicago, Illinois where a young man named Ethan Warner is released from prison where he was sent after involvement in a fight . He was formerly a US Marine officer and then a journalist and his former commanding officer identifies him as having ideal skills for a special mission. His commanding officer now works for a CIA type organisation called the Defence Intelligence Agency (DIA) and Lucy Morgan is his granddaughter and he wants Ethan to go to Israel to locate her. It seems that Israel is at a delicate stage of negotiating a peace deal with Palestine and therefore it would not be appropriate for the Americans to go in officially. Ethan has worked in Israel before, as a journalist and has contacts and history in the area and agrees to help his former boss. After a briefing from some senior officers of the DIA and some discussion with Rachel Morgan, the mother of Lucy who wants to accompany him to Israel they both fly off to Tel Aviv.

This multi-layered story then switches to Washington DC, where two Metropolitan Police Department Detectives, Lucas Tyrell and Nicola Lopez are called to an abandoned house in a slum area which has aroused attention because of unpleasant smells. The detectives force their way into the address where they discover three naked bodies in early states of decomposition. There is evidence of drug paraphernalia near the bodies which leads to an initial indication that this was a crack den but Tyrell notices that one of the victims has unusually good teeth which is strange for addicts but also there is evidence of frostbite on the fingers and toes of the deceased victims which is very unusual when the ambient daytime temperature is over 25 degrees Celsius. Tyrell and Lopez investigate further.

The story then switches to The New Covenant Church of the American Evangelical Alliance where Pastor Kelvin Patterson is adamant that according to his fundamentalist viewpoint the Earth is less than 10,000 years old and the bible is literal truth of the early history of the world. United States Senator Isaiah Black is one of his closest friends and he has ambitions of becoming president and the support of Pastor Kelvin Patterson's vast television congregation is very important to the Senator, but he is suspicious of the Pastor's involvement with a large private security group known as Mace which are involved in undercover biological experiments in Israel using a renegade surgeon.

These three diverse ingredients combine to make a thrilling adventure which eventually reaches a sensational conclusion. This is an amazingly good, intelligently told, first novel by an exciting new British author. The story reminded me in parts of books by authors James Rollins, Scott Mariani and Matthew Reilly. A very enjoyable book which whilst it is quite long, finishes on page 617 and the remaining pages comprise a preview of the next novel and some acknowledgements by the author. I enjoyed this novel immensely and the pages just shot by and I will look out for his next one which is due out in May 2012.

Terry Halligan, England
March 2012

More European crime fiction reviews can be found on the Reviews page.

last updated 18/03/2012 10:21