Thursday, December 13, 2018

Book Review: 'The Last Oracle' by Christopher Hepworth

‘Those who will not reason, perish in the act.
Australian author Christopher Hepworth was born in the UK and raised in Zambiia in central Africa. Writing is a second career for Christopher – he was a professional highly award negotiator for some of the world’s largest companies in the world and his working with a variety of captains of industry supplied him with ideas for characters and concepts of his written work. As he states, ‘The exotic characters in his books reflect his fascination with the charismatic and proud, but often maligned warrior nations around the world, whose stories are screaming to be told. His desk-bound corporate warriors come face to face with those proud peoples, who have suffered the misfortunes of fate and history but their dignity and aspirations remain intact. His series – The Sam Jardine Crime Thrillers – birth a new type of hero, ‘Sam Jardine must use his occupational skills to thwart the ambitions of ruthless villains who seek to subordinate the world with their depraved sense of moral values. Armed only with a sense of justice, respect for ancient warrior cultures and an extraordinary talent for negotiation, can he win the day or will he be engulfed in the cesspit of corporate politics? For the sake of world peace, let’s hope Sam Jardine is up to the task.’

Few authors of the thriller category can summon a sophisticated opening that suggests the tension that is to come as well as Christopher. ‘Luxor, Egypt, 12th September 1997 -The Egyptologist applied a cool, damp cloth to the fevered brow of her twelve-year-old daughter. There had been an outbreak of malaria in the busy city of Luxor and many children had died from the mosquito-borne disease. Saara gazed at her beautiful daughter and fretted she had left her telephone call to the doctor too late. There was no denying Sienna was different from other children, even allowing for her mixed-race bloodlines. She was beautiful beyond imagination and taller than the other children in her classroom. Sienna was academically gifted to the point of brilliance, but her mother worried about her social development. Her daughter was remote with other children and possessed an extraordinary spiritual awareness that unnerved those around her. The local imam had suggested sending Sienna to the Luxor Al-Azhar school, where she would receive a strict religious education, but on her mediocre government wage, Saara would struggle to afford the fees. Saara had often considered writing to the wealthy American, Rex Daingerfield, to let him know he had a daughter, and only Allah knew how much she needed the money. But she feared the handsome American oil tycoon with his sophisticated Western ways would take Sienna out of Egypt, leaving Saara with nothing but her memories.’ And with this tenor he plunges us forward into the story whose nidus is buried in this opening chapter.

‘As a series of bizarre climate-related events occur across our planet, it seems the world is edging towards a catastrophic tipping point. Rex Daingerfield is the owner of a giant fracking company that seeks to exploit a rich seam of gas in the environmentally sensitive Greenland ice shelf. But Daingerfield has a nemesis – his daughter. Born to an Egyptian mother, she is inducted as the Oracle of the Temple of Sekhmet. Her role is to protect the earth from the likes of her father. The Oracle recruits the world’s greatest negotiator, Sam Jardine, to convince her father to change his destructive business model. But a secret society of the rich and powerful stands to profit from the chaos that has gripped the world. Led by an errant priest from the Temple of Sekhmet, he will do anything to stop Jardine. As the planet edges closer to disaster, Jardine is confronted by politicians, lobbyists, vested interests – even his own radicalised half-brother – all of whom stand to gain from the mayhem about to be unleashed.’

Superlative fast paced thriller written with elegance and panache. Highly recommended. Grady Harp, October 17

This book is free to borrow from Kindle Unlimited

Editor's note: This review has been published with the permission of Grady Harp. Like what you read? Subscribe to the SFRB's free daily email notice so you can be up-to-date on our latest articles. Scroll up this page to the sign-up field on your right.

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