Book two along the tour of this month’s new releases from Baker Publishing Group is a suspense / thriller with a historical twist. Or at least, it was supposed to be a suspense / thriller… hrmm… *purses lips* …
The Constantine Conspiracy – Gary E. Parker
The innocent don’t run–unless their lives depend on it.
When international playboy Rick Carson stumbles onto a murder in his Montana home, he knows his life will never be the same. But he certainly doesn’t expect to be the prime suspect. And he doesn’t expect to find himself in the middle of a 1700-year-old conspiracy with tentacles reaching into the very highest levels of the government.
Park ranger Shannon Bridge is the first responding law enforcement agent on the scene. She seems legitimate, but is there more to her than meets the eye? Why is she willing to help Rick elude the law?
With unanswered questions and the law closing in, Shannon and Rick must find some way to exonerate him–and expose the truth before it’s too late. In a place where no one is who they say they are and danger lurks around every corner, can they even trust each other?
Get swept up in this thrilling tale of international intrigue, conspiracy, and the power of truth.
This is a book that tries to be heavy on action but ends up weak on plot, character development, and logic.
Here’s the thing: an international conspiracy that’s been ongoing since “ancient times” is a plot that’s been done to death by now, and there are only so many ways an author can re-do this as something believable. How many people have read The DaVinci Code? You didn’t have to like it, but the book was huge and had a similar concept. In the same way, how many people are writing about boy wizards going to a school of magic right now? Unless you have something absolutely unique and fresh to offer, rehashing a recently popular plot device is a tough sell.
In The Constantine Conspiracy, rather than having an ancient society that will kill to keep a secret, we have an ancient society that’s been working to undermine Christianity since the days of Constantine. Honestly, in the end I wasn’t entirely sure how Constantine had anything to do with what happened (the connection was tenuous at best), but I can set that aside.
The problem is, having an ancient society whose aim is to eradicate Christianity from the face of the globe, starting with the United States, is a ridiculous premise to begin with. If this group was so determined, why wouldn’t it focus its efforts on other nations where there are growing segments of Christians (ie. certain African countries) before those groups became too big to deal with? And for that matter, why were they only trying to get rid of Christianity and not other religious groups?
I wonder if that question was addressed in the book and I didn’t pick it up… the explanation would have had to be short and vague, which doesn’t help the premise. There are also several occasions in the novel where the female main character, Shannon, pauses to explain things to the main character, Rick. He asks the right questions and the story stops for several pages while the READER learns information along with the character – in a very obvious, “I’m going to explain things now” kind of way. It interrupts the flow of the book, and I wonder why the information wasn’t simply given along the course of the story.
But that’s another problem I had with this book – it begins as a case of people not talking to each other, not telling each other what they need to know. It’s one of those “if these people would only just HAVE A DECENT CONVERSATION at the beginning of the book, we could avoid all this trouble” kind of situations. That frustrates me, and is a contrived way of creating conflict.
Aside from the nonsensical premise (seriously, how has no one found out about this secret society if they’ve been murdering people and manipulating the government for centuries? …surely a journalist or two would have probed into this long before) and the unfortunate plot, I also didn’t care about the characters. Honestly, the main characters could have been shot and died and I wouldn’t have cared. I know that’s harsh, but there was nothing to connect to. They were flat, uninteresting, and difficult to relate to (ie. the main character is famous, wealthy, and a “playboy”, though we don’t actually see this, we’re just told it, so there’s no real way to gauge his development over the course of the story).
In the end, I admit there must be an audience for this book out there – I’ve never read anything else by this author, but he’s written twenty novels, so someone likes his style and storytelling. And that’s great! I’m glad he’s found his niche. I, on the other hand, will not be picking up another book by the author anytime soon.
If you’re really curious, you can read an excerpt from the novel here.
About the Author
Gary E. Parker is the author of more than twenty books. He and his family live in the Atlanta area.