Toyne, Simon - 'Sanctus'
This, the debut novel from the very gifted Simon Toyne, is simply awesome. An extremely well-crafted and original tale that becomes the focus of your existence for the all-too-short a time that it takes to read. What makes it even better is the fact that it is part one of a trilogy - so there is even more to come.
It starts with a lone monk, dressed in green, very disturbed by something he has just witnessed, climbing out of his cell window and up a treacherous cliff to the top of the Turkish mountain that his abbey has been built inside. At the top, exhausted and having had his strength tested to the limit, he passes a cold night sitting and planning. With the breaking of dawn he stands up and assumes the position of Christ on the cross, with arms outstretched and head down. After remaining still for several hours, he leaps to his death.
While he is standing on the mountain, the monk is seen by several early morning tourists and is soon making headlines in the international news. His presence on the top of his monastery causes a sensation, as it is a mysterious place that outsiders know very little about. His actions catch the eye of a certain Kathryn Mann, who heads up an international aid charity and knows far more about the significance of the cross on top of the mountain, and its fall, than is revealed. She and her allies become involved in an action-packed deadly race to retrieve the dead monk's body from the police before the monastery does.
Meanwhile, a young lady, far away in the United States is grieving the loss of her brother, only to discover that he hadn't been dead all the years she had suspected him to be, but was dead now as he had just leaped from a mountain top in Turkey, dressed as a monk. Heartbroken and confused she heads to the airport to go and identify her brother and bring him home. Unknown to her, she is about to set foot on a very dangerous path and become far more involved in the significance of her brother's missing eight years than she ever dreamed was possible.
SANCTUS has an absolutely amazing plot: exciting, unpredictable and full of a raw energy that screams at you from the page. The breathtaking ending catches you by surprise and leaves your emotions raw. This book is already on the list of my top five for 2011 and I am impatient for the second part. Very highly recommended.
Amanda C M Gillies, Scotland