Alex Archer, |
(Gold Eagle, 2006)
Annja Creed is an archaeologist who loves exploring ancient sites to dig for artifacts and piece together the past, separating myth from reality. But there isn't enough money in that to support herself. She gets a job on a television show called, Chasing History's Monsters, and they pay her to go all over the world, tracking down sensational stories from the past so that they can present them in a tabloid-like manner.
The Beast of Gevaudan (French: La bete du Gevaudan) was a creature that terrorised the general area of the former province of Gevaudan (in today's Lozere departement), in the Margeride Mountains in south-central France, from about 1764 to 1767. While a number of attacks took place, estimated to be about one-hundred victims, there has been debate regarding the identity of the culprit. The story is a popular target of conspiracy theorists, and some consider the creature to be the French equivalent of the Loch Ness Monster.
Annja's show wants her to play up the sensational aspects of the story, with emphasis on the death toll and the supernatural aspects of the beast. Well, she does find the beast, but that's just the beginning of the story. Before it's done, we encounter the sword of Joan of Arc, that was the sword of Saint Catherine-de-Fierbois; a supposedly nonexistent group of monks called the Brotherhood of the Silent Rain; two knights who tried to defend Joan of Arc and are still alive, more than 500 years old; Corvin LeSauvage, a criminal mastermind after a hidden treasure; and a centuries-old (fictional) secret protected by the Catholic Church.
Alex Archer, a.k.a. Mel Odom, writes a fast-paced, rousing adventure tale that is hard to put down. Incredible things keep happening, but are described in a coherent fashion, thus one's ability to suspend disbelief is not pushed too far. Annja starts off as a fascinating character and is even more so by the end of this book, thus setting the stage for many sequels to come (the first of which will be coming soon). Roux is also a fascinating character, and I'm sure that we will see more of him. He was one of Joan of Arc's protectors, but there are hints that he is even more than that. I have my own theories as to who he really is, but I'll keep them to myself, for now. If any of my theories is right, he will continue to be a great character.
Overall, this is a great adventure story, with lots of action, good characters and plenty of supernatural, yet credible, elements.
by Chris McCallister