The Concordances of the Red Serpent

Review: The Concordances of the Red Serpent, William Meikle, 2011, 2016.concordancesprint

This is Meikle writing a Da Vinci Code-style thriller. There’s a quest for an ancient alchemical manuscript that may hold the key to immortality. There’s a bunch of characters that hop from New York City to Canada to Scotland as they follow the clues.

The story starts out rather like that classic paranoid spy movie Three Days of the Condor with our heroine Patty Doyle, who inventories rare manuscripts for her employer, returning to the office after a brief jaunt out to find most of her co-workers horribly killed. A stranger, Alex Seton, shows up to whisk her away, claiming she’s in danger.

Naturally, an office of dead bodies is going to get the attention of the cops, New York City detectives Mike Turner and Samantha Mendoza. They’re not sure what’s going on, but they suspect the executive of a pharmaceutical company, Adams, as being involved.

And, we’re off on an adventure that pulled me quickly through its pages but, in the end, didn’t have enough novelty for me to rank it above average. Sure, Turner and Mendoza rekindling an old affair while pursuing their case was not entirely expected. But the old romance-developing-on-the-run plot, here between Doyle and Seton, was. Turner is another of Meikle’s burned out and alcoholic cops.

On the plus side, Ross, Adams’ violent henchman, is an entertaining character. I didn’t expect Seton’s secret. (The Seton clan is sort of an Easter egg feature of many a Meikle story but in the forefront here.) The alchemical quotes from The Concordances seemed realistic to me given my slight knowledge of alchemical theory. This is also one of Meikle’s works that most strongly conveys the sense of Scotland as a place.

A decent enough thriller but mostly recommended for those with an interest in alchemy or Meikle fans who want to read a story with a Seton as a major character.


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