Eve's Reviews > Altar of Bones

Altar of Bones by Philip Carter
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's review
Mar 17, 2011

really liked it
Read in March, 2011

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 perspective to another and from the present to the past then to the present again. It wasn't until I reached Zoe's, the present day heroine's, narrative that I finally got my bearings.

Loved the part about the Russian legend, guarded by keepers whose duty is handed down from mother to daughter throughout the ages. I loved the breathtaking chases set in San Francisco, Paris, Budapest, and Russia. This is a fun read, keeping in mind that it's the literary equivalent of a Fast and Furious movie. It's chapter after chapter of unrelenting improbable and unrealistic escapes and scenes which have cinematic appeal - but slightly dizzying on paper. The sex scene could be termed fast and furious too - all the more apt because it’s on the hood of a car. I turned the page and thought, "wow it's over already…but they just blew out a tire."

And the hero's ability to speak 12 languages, which enables him to fluently converse with anybody in whichever country they're in is stretching it a bit, especially since he's supposedly a DEA agent. But what do I know. Another thing I didn't really go for was the assassination part, with a new twist on some well-covered ground, but not convincing enough for me.

Altar of Bones has the skeleton of a riveting story - I would have preferred more fleshed out, three dimensional characters and less flash.

The unexpected mystery I really want solved is Philip Carter's true identity - apparently it's a pseudonym for an "internationally renowned" author. Guesses, anyone?
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