Never having read anything by Tom Knox, I will freely admit that it was more the cover here than the cover blurb itself that attracted my interest here. Unfortunately, what I had hoped would be a fun archaeological adventure (akin to Matthew Reilly), and was even willing to accept as yet another pale imitation of Dan Brown, simply got bogged down by way more religious fanaticism and politics than I cared to wade through.
The Lost Goddess starts out interestingly enough, with an archaeological discovery in a French cave, followed by a mysterious assault in the dying artificial light deep underground. For me, that opening scene was the highlight of the novel, which is a definite problem - that level of tension and suspense is simply never recaptured anywhere else within the story. A lot of the action seemed to be mere padding, such as the extended tangent of police chases and family squabbles that nearly brought the middle of the book to a halt.
Where it completely lost my interest, though, was with its heavy-handed approach in equating 'faith' with all that is good and pure in the world, and 'atheism' with all that is evil and cruel. There is actually a line towards the end of the novel where one of the characters calls atheism “a form of dementia . . . a mental illness.” Curious (and more than a little annoyed), I did a little research and stumbled across an interview with Knox where he backs up that sentiment, and actually says "Maybe there is something slightly inhuman about atheism? I certainly believe we are meant to believe, and science shows that our brains are probably “adapted” for faith—we are hard–wired for religiosity."I could go on, but I won't dignify that kind of narrow minded fanaticism and intolerance with a response . . . not even in the throes of my secular dementia.
It's a shame, because the Hands of Gargas and the Plain of Jars are definitely unique MacGuffins to explore (maybe Rob MacGregor or Steve Perry can 'borrow' them for their Indiana Jones novels), and there are hints of competent writing here. If only the the history hadn't been wasted in info-dumps, and then overshadowed by the social/political commentary and religious fanaticism, it could have been an average thriller.
All-in-all, a rather disappointing read, and an author I certainly don't care to revisit.Originally reviewed at Beauty in Ruins