With his second novel in The Dominic Grey Series, Layton Green not only fulfills the potential of the first volume, he gives me precisely the story I had been anticipating for so long. The Egyptian is a stellar read, one that combines elements of Indiana Jones, Dirk Pitt, Robert Langdon, and Aloysius Pendergast. It nicely balances the conflicting themes of science and religion, teasing the reader with glimmers of each, and maintaining the potential for either one to commandeer the text.
It all begins with a clandestine hand off of stolen goods in the City of the Dead, a mysterious test tube contained within a ridiculously well-protected box. Before long, Dominic Grey finds himself hired by the CEO from whom the substance was stolen, not to recover it, but simply to determine where it was taken. It's an odd case right from the start, marked by an eccentric Egyptian gentleman in green robes, with an ornate golden disk around his neck. The obscure mythology connected to that disk, and the historical secrets it leads Viktor Radek (Dominic's employer) are half of the story, paired with the very real science of aging and immortality that lies behind the test tube.
This is a story of conflicted loyalties, tenuous alliances, and more than one betrayal. Green takes us across the world and back, from the streets of Manhattan, to the sands of the Sahara, to the mountains of Bulgaria. While the story moves too quickly to really get us involved in the settings, the details are more than sufficient to help carry us along. The juxtaposition of mummies in a Manhattan park, religious cults in a high tech science lab, and well-armed goons in the depths of a desert cave creates an excitement all on its own, while playing with the story's themes.
In terms of storytelling, this second book is a bit more accessible, marked by multiple POV characters. It allows Green to expand the story and to add some much-appreciated depth, without straining the credibility of Dominic's travel. We see a bit more of Victor, a man whom I suspect could carry a story on his own, if given the chance, and are introduced to the likes of Veronica (a UN investigative reporter), Jax (an ethical sort of mercenary), and Stefan (a scientist full of secrets). There's a great mystery at the core of the novel, and Green maintains the suspense throughout, never tipping his hand until the very end. There's a lot of action and adventure as well, of course, which keeps the pacing tight.
Behind all of the mystery, the action, the adventure, and the romanticism is a very serious exploration of life, death, and what we'll do to keep the two as far from one another as possible. Nearly all of the main characters are haunted by the death or sickness of a loved one, providing them with motives and justifications that blur the line between hero and villain. If you're up for a solid adventure that has a bit more brains than your average thriller, and appreciate a hero who is strong, realistic, and vulnerable, then give this series a shot - you won't regret it.
Published June 4th 2013 by Thomas & Mercer
Kindle Edition, 327 pages