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Altar of Bones

3.70  ·  Rating details ·  3,213 ratings  ·  513 reviews
Siberia, 1939. Pregnant with her first child, Lena Orlova plans a daring escape from a brutal Soviet prison camp to the one place she knows is safe: a cave containing the legendary Altar of Bones, hidden behind a frozen waterfall deep in the icy wilderness. San Francisco, Present Day. Zoe Dmitroff discovers that she is the last in a line of women who have been entrusted ...more
Hardcover, 640 pages
Published May 26th 2011 by Simon and Schuster (first published January 1st 2011)
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Average rating 3.70  · 
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Benjamin Thomas
Reading "Altar of Bones" by Philip Carter was like reading a two-hour movie of the week. It's got everything you could want in a fast-paced action-oriented novel, including car chases, assassination attempts, exposed conspiracy theories, riddles, potentially supernatural elements, sexual tension, good guys, bad guys, (and sometimes you aren't sure which is which) get the idea. Everything but the kitchen sink is thrown at you leading to a page-turning read.

"Philip Carter" is a pseudonym
Yet another book I'm unsure how to rate.
I really enjoyed it. It was one of those books that I just couldn't stop turning the pages of. But it wasn't unputdownable because I put it down a LOT.
Because the plot was rather bland in my opinion. I mean sure, the idea was cool and all that... but I just felt like it was a book about awesome action scenes rather than the actual altar of bones or the film or whatever else.
Everything seemed to take a back seat to them kicking butt.
And don't get me
Hasham Rasool
Jun 10, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I thought it was a good book but to be honest I can't remember what happened in this book mostly. I only remember what happened at the end of the book because I had read this book a long time ago. I am not sure if I will reread this book.
Nov 07, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites
By far, my favourite book! Could not put this book down. Would love for Carter to put out another book!
Philip Carter's action-packed novel Altar of Bones reads like Matthew Reilly fanfiction as written by a 16 year old.

The book is in need of an editor, as it tops out at 645 pages. At least three chapters are devoted to the backstory of the altar and how it came into the possession of the likable female protagonist, lawyer Zoe Dmitroff, who works for the rights of abused women. The backstory is a bit science fiction-y as it involves the affairs between JFK, RFK, and Marilyn Monroe; oddly enough,
Jun 20, 2011 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: thrillers, fiction
Despite a slow start, a likable pair of protagonists make this story somewhat enjoyable, and they hooked me before the many insanely improbable plot elements could get me to walk away. I just had to see how things turned out for those two, and they were by far the best thing about this one. Which, in retrospect, wasn't enough to carry the day. Overall, the pacing is extremely inconsistent, with the narrative bogging down more often than not whenever the bullets aren't flying. Even the writing ...more
Stacie Vaughan
This was quite the book! It literally grabbed me from the first page right until the very end. This book is very fast paced and there’s action on every page. It was not a slow read at all!

It reminded me a little of The DaVinci Code with the hidden icons, conspiracies and all the jet setting to exotic locales. Of course add to that a dash of intrigue and danger and you are in for a wild ride as a reader. There was a lot going on with the plot but the author weaved the story so that it was easy to
Nov 29, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: thriller
A mysterious altar of bones lies in a cave in Siberia. Someone is hunting down everyone who knows about it.

It's been a long time since I've read a thriller that was, well, thrilling. This one was. Yay! But I can't exactly put my finger on why I like it.

Actually, I can come up with a bunch of reasons not to like this book. The romance is clumsy at best. It includes conspiracies that have been so over-theorized that I yawn just thinking about them. And the "twist" is honestly kind of lame.

But the
Sep 25, 2011 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
One dimensional characters, a plot filled with ridiculous storylines and twists. Car chase scenes that went on forever and ever. I believe this book was written in hopes of landing a movie deal, as it already reads like a script. The author is writing incognito for a reason folks. I only read it to the end because so many people raved about it. Do yourselves a favor and pass. Lots of great books being written, sadly this one isn't one of them.
May 13, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Altar of Bones is the first novel by Philip Carter, a pseudonym for an author who is "internationally renowned", according to the cover flap and the author description on Fantastic Fiction.

At first glance, Altar of Bones seems like another 'Da Vinci Code'-type adventure in which contemporary beliefs and mores clash with ancient secrets and truths. However, Altar of Bones is nothing like what you would expect -- especially if you use its position on the bestselling list and its cover art to come
Mar 17, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition

Altar of Bones by Philip Carter is a fast-moving thriller with a plot on hyper drive. From the first page to the last, it's action, action, action. The titular altar of bones concerns a Russian legend about a fountain of youth and immortality hidden in the caves of Siberia. From there the plot spirals to include, among other things, the KGB, the Russian mafia, and a presidential assasination. It was hard to find my footing at first because the book started out bouncing from one character's
Nov 04, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Phillip Carter emerges under a nom de plume to create a great thriller, a la Dan Brown or Sam Bourne, filled with politics and science and just a sprinkle of romance. Readers who are not busy trying to figure out who this mysterious author might be will enjoy the overall story that has a San Francisco lawyer and a DEA agent, tossed together by fate, as they search for this Altar of Bones. Carter tosses in some real bones as he posits that those who know about the Altar have undertaken actions ...more
Jul 05, 2011 rated it really liked it
Think Jack Reacher meets The Russian Sopranos meets Uma Thurman in Kill Bill and that will give you some idea of just what sort of a roller-coaster ride you’re in for.

Ry O’Malley, battle-hardened ex-soldier learns of his father’s death bed confession to ‘the big kill’ and of a film that he took many years ago and which someone is desperate to find. So desperate that they’ll stop at nothing to find it. His father wants Ry to find the film or they will kill him. But who are they and what is on the
A homeless woman is murdered in Golden Gate Park in San Francisco, but she keeps her secret and cuts the killer. A man has a heart attack, but passes on a strange secret to his son just before he dies. A priest is murdered in a church for a secret he will never tell. His brother barely escapes a hit squad, but they try to kill him again. All for an old 8 mm film. All secrets lead back to Siberia. Zoe, a lawyer for female domestic issues receives an intriguing and mysterious letter from a woman ...more
Suzie Wentworth
If you like almost constant running and shoot-em-ups, you will like this book. I didn't. I got really tired of those scenes and skipped over a lot of it. If the author cut way back on these scenes, it would have been a much better story. Too much time was spent with the heroes of the story escaping impossible situations in the nick of time. The story line itself is interesting. It is about a woman who has been handed down the responsibility of "Keeper" of the Alter of Bones. This happens out of ...more
This is not a book I would have picked up and read just on the basis of the back cover blurb. I don’t go for books with an ‘otherworldly’ component. But my wife read it and said I might like it, so I gave it a shot. I was glad she did and I did.

Zoe Dmitroff is heiress to a deadly legacy. Ry O’Malley is seeking the truth about his recently deceased father after learning he wasn’t the man Ry thought. Both are on the run for their lives from people who would kill to possess the ancient knowledge
As excited as I was to read this book based on the reviews, I'm astonished to say that I have no desire to finish it after about 200 pages. This is more of a "pulp thriller" if there is such a classification. I've constantly been wondering why the "famous author" chose to use a Pseudonym, and my firm belief is because of embarrasment. I don't think this author has ever written a thriller, and tried to use every literary trick in the book to create one. The scenarios were so ridiculous, that it ...more
Fredrick Danysh
Nov 04, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The females of Zoe's family line have always been Keepers of the Altar of Bones which is believed to bring immortality if drank. Rys' father was part of the JFK assassination. Now both are loose ends to be disposed of as a Russian mobster and a rich billionaire hunt for the Altar of Bones and a film showing the actual Kennedy assassins. Fleeing across the world, the two connect in search of the secrets themselves. This one was hard to put down.
Sep 09, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A 4 star!
This book is a fantastic easy, "inbetween books" book.

With the fountain of life, JFK's assasination and the wealthy exploits of the rich, this is great read.

Philip Carter's easy writing style ensures a fast read. A real page turner.

Best enjoyed with a glass or two of red wine.
Giovanni Gelati
Mar 27, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition

Welcome to Monday! I for one was looking for another day in the weekend, but alas it was not to be. Wham, Monday is here and it is time to get my act into gear. Early in the day I put up my interview with Best-Selling Author John Locke, if you missed it, go back and check it out; there is some good stuff there. Today on the blogtalk show ,The G-ZONE we have Bri Clark as a guest,the conversation should be lively and fun. Tomorrow my guest will be Betty Otter Thompson. Okay the novel that was in
Cathy Cole
Mar 15, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
First Line: Rosie knew the stranger had come to kill her as soon as he walked into the circle of light cast by their fire.

Starting with an escape from a Siberian prison camp in 1937, Altar of Bones travels to the present day in a non-stop deadly quest for two items that several groups will stop at nothing to possess. San Francisco lawyer Zoë Dmitroff receives a letter from the grandmother she never knew telling her that she's the "keeper" of an ancient secret concerning a Siberian cave known as
Mar 10, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book starts out with an old homeless woman being pursued by a man. The woman knows that if she keeps running, she just might be able to live another day. Unfortunately, the woman is not fast enough. The last words out of the woman’s mouth is…”They didn’t have to kill him…he never drink from the Altar of Bones. I got it back.”

The next scene takes reads back in time to 1937 in a Norilsk prison camp on Siberia, USSR. It is here that readers start to learn more about what the Altar of Bones is
Mar 09, 2014 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Had this been written as some kind of satire, I would have probably chuckled along even though satire is not at all my thing. But it wasn't. This author was dead serious and somehow managed to write one book with every single action book/movie cliche I have ever heard.

I was maybe 200 pages in before I realized that what I was reading was completely absurd. You know what tipped me off? The main character was running from the bad guy and she ends up in a Parisian marketplace and the bad guy runs
Annette Gisby
Aug 23, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This was on roller-coaster of a book. The term page-turner hardly does it justice. I was hooked from the first page and just had to keep reading to find out what was going to happen next. Some if it I had guessed, which disappointed me a bit, I would have preferred it if the 'big kill' referred to in the book had been a not so famous kill already.

Nevertheless, the writing flows so well you just want to keep reading. It's a different sort of conspiracy, in that the reader knows quite early on
Mary Chrapliwy
Jun 29, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: amazon-vine
This book grabs you immediately by the throat and doesn't let you go until the end. Carter was descriptive, creating scene and character well, without being too wordy. Told in third person, past tense, this story pulls you in and makes you feel like you are there.

I won't rehash the plot here, as that has been covered well already.

All of the above with regard to the high suspense, high stakes nature of the story, there was a plot point that made me groan due to its implausibility. Another
Joann Downie
Mar 10, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
One word-Fantastic! This is truly a masterful piece of suspense/thriller storytelling!

It starts in Siberia(brrr)with a young woman who is in possession of a secret. She helps her so called boyfriend escape from the prison she works in, and they end up in this cave. This takes place a long time ago. Jump to the present. An old man,father of 2 grown sons,ends up in the hospital pretty much on his death bed. His one son, Dom is a priest, his other son, Ry works for the DEA. Well the old man wanted
Jun 22, 2011 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I was suppose to be reading Mary Shelley's "Frankenstein" but instead found myself reading this book after I left the previous at home and resolutely chose the latter out of all the other to-read books in my trunk. Surprisingly, the book really pulled me into its plot. All of these questions that I just needed to know the answers to: What is the altar of bones?; What's on the film so many people are so desperate to get?; What is the "Big Kill?" How is everyone connected?

The main protagonists -
May 03, 2012 rated it it was amazing
If you're a Dan Brown fan than this book is better! Recommended to me by a friend and I will be recommending to others for sure. The story starts in Siberia in 1939 when Lena Orlova escapes from a Soviet gulag to her place of safety - a cave containing the legendary Altar of Bones. The story though is present day when Zoe Dmitroff finds out that she is the last in a line of women who have been entrusted to guard the secret of the Altar of Bones. She finds herself thrown into a dangerous quest to ...more
Poussinette (Sophie)
I liked the beginning quite a bit. Until the Heroine, Zoe, got to Paris. Then I got a bit miffed at the author due to the following paragraph : (view spoiler) ...more
Dec 12, 2011 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Bad spy flick meets romance novel. I expect far fetched action crap in film, not from a book. This is the last time I grab something off the rack at Target without really looking it over. SPOILER! If this crap makes people insane, why protect it? The cave should have been destroyed as the juice had no value. You figure after hundreds of years of problems with it someone would have been smart enough to make that decision, but no, lets create riddles, intricate protective boxes, and sophisicated ...more
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Philip Carter is a pseudonym for an internationally renowned author.
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“I think what makes life matter,what makes it good,is knowing that someday we`ll die. Maybe death is God`s joke on us but I think it is also his gift.We have our allotted time and the is`s over.It`s up to us to make in meaningful and special.” 4 likes
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