Cottam, F G - 'The Lazarus Prophecy'
A novel more in the style of a Dan Brown thriller, than a detective novel, this book had a mixture of the bizarre with everyday detection work. The victims are women, the first three 'mere' prostitutes, but then the fourth is someone rather more well-known, the actress Julie Longmuir. Jane, the detective on the case, enters her apartment in the dark, just as the perpetrator waits for his victims – in the darkness. The body is laid out naked on the bed, cut open, organs displayed by the side of the body, and a message on the wall above the bed, in an ancient language. There is no sign of the murderer, no fingerprints, no secretions and no images captured on CCTV. This is another apparently random killing and there is very little to go on other than deciphering the meaning of the messages written on the wall, for which reason the murderer is given the nickname 'The Scholar'. Jane is helped to do this by an academic, Dominic Carter, and a theologian called Jacob Prior.
Interspersed chapters describe an ancient monastery, almost like a fortress in the midst of the Pyrenees, reached only by a hazardous climb, and with very little modern technology. A handful of monks live there; only three where there should have been seven, and they seem to know about something called 'the Lazarus Prophecy'. A prophecy related to the tale in the Bible about the man called Lazarus, who was raised from the dead by Jesus. The tangible proof of the prophecy apparently resides in a locked room - a secret book by someone called Brother Daniel Barry, written in 1888 about events in London at the time. Events likened by Jane to the current murders she is investigating. Events that seem to relate to the murders carried out by the famous Jack the Ripper.
As the plot develops, the links between the past and the present, and the two separate story lines begin to emerge. But really, a frustrating case for the detective in charge, in that the only clues for Jane are the messages, Jacob's interpretation of them, and the psychic musings of a dancer, a 'near-miss' victim who sensed evil on the other side of her door when returning home and escaped her fate, who is able to provide help regarding the killer. A large team of detectives, with almost nothing to do, it all boils down to these three main characters. But, Jane is a gentle heroine and Jacob, a sensitive romantic foil and hero to Jane. If you like the Dan Brown books, you'll like this. It's reasonably well plotted, with likeable heroes and heroines, a bit fanciful and not to be taken too seriously.
Michelle Peckham, England