There is no need to read the first book, The Alchemist's Secret, before this one, I believe that Maraina has written the books in the Ben Hope series so that they can be read as stand alone. There is no reference back to the first book, however, if you are looking for a good read, then I would recommend reading the first novel The Alchemist's Secret.
Scott Mariani returns with Ben Hope the finder of missing children, however, his next mission is one that is much more personal.
Ben Hope finds those who others have tried and failed. He is the person that family members call when their children have been stolen from him. Ben is very good at his job and he does not stop till he finds the child and puts his own form of punishment on the perpetrators. However, Ben is about to be dragged into a mystery that stems from history. Was Mozart Poisoned by a jealous composer? Was he killed by his fellow Freemasons to silence him? Oliver Llewellyn believes that he has found the truth and it is more sinister. However, before Oliver is able to release his findings, he is murdered to keep his silence. Ben does not believe that Oliver would die the way he did, things do not seem to be adding up and when Oliver's sister Leigh Llewellyn calls Ben desperately needing help, he knows there is more to Oliver's and Mozart's deaths than has been discovered. Ben is on a race to discover the Mozart's final secret as it will lead to Oliver's killer. But Ben needs to watch out because the conspiracy is far more powerful than anyone imagined.
I loved this book, I think it is better than the first. This novel had everything that I want in a Thriller; Mystery, suspense, action and further character development. I found this book darker than the first one, and I think this was partially due to the fact that the mission is much more personal in this book than the first. There are quite a few twists and turn and it is not just about finding out the Mozart Conspiracy, but also a more recent murder. This book is well written and easy to read. You will not get lost in the mystery or action scenes as the are well laid out, and you are never questioning, how did that happen?
We get to see more of Ben Hope, his past and more of who he is as character and partially of how he got that way. I liked how Mariani gave the reader peals into his past with becoming an SAS soldiers, as well as his friendship with Oliver. Hope has his own form of right and wrong, especially when dealing with people who have kidnapped children. The reader gets to see a harder, darker side of Hope as well as a softer side, especially when he encounters Leigh Llewellyn.
I really enjoy that Mariani is willing to take risks with his characters. You don't know who is going to be hurt or dead next. I enjoy this type of suspense from the author as it is creates a type of suspense that goes beyond the storyline. I wish more authors would do this. Does it mean that you can loose characters you love, yes, but it just makes the book that much more realistic, so I applaud Mariani for not taking the easy route when writing his stories and realizing that there doesn't always have to be a happy ending.
Mariani has stuck with the premise around a type of cult or group that has been around for generations. There is talk about the Freemasons (as Mozart was supposed one) as well as a rival group. I'm unsure of how accurate the information within the book it, but either way it was a great read. There was not too much history about Mozart, I think that Mariani kept it pretty basic so that the reader did not get lost in detail and the story did not slow down.
Mariani has quickly become a go to author for me when I'm looking for a Thriller book. The books are everything and more that I am looking for. If you are looking for a novel that has an easy writing style, very interesting storyline, and a writer who is not afraid to test the limits of their character, Maraini is the author you are looking for. I am looking forward to reading more books by Mariani with his character Ben Hope. Definitely a Thriller author everyone should look into.
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