Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Review: Altar of Bones

Altar of Bones by Phillip Carter

Publication Date: March 2011
Publisher: Simon & Schuster Adult
Genre: Thriller
ISBN-13: 9781439199084

(Received for review from Simon & Schuster)

Purchase: Barnes & Noble, Book Depository, IndieBound

Phillip Carter on the WEB: Philip Carter is a bit of an enigma. You can't find out much information about him because the name is a pseudonym for an internationally acclaimed espionage writer. At this point Simon & Schuster remains closed-lipped about the author's identity... a mystery in itself!

Barnes & Noble offers a short excerpt video on their purchase page (see Barnes & Noble link above)

Synopsis (Book Blurb):

"They didn't have to kill him... he never drank from the altar of bones."

The cryptic words of a murdered homeless woman in present-day San Francisco unlock a decades-buried secret that changed history - and ignite a lightening-fast game of cat-and-mouse from the winding streets of Paris to the faded palaces of Budapest to the frozen forests of Siberia.

"You will be the Keeper of the altar of bones... and your sacred duty will be to keep it hidden forever from the world."

Zoe Dmitroff is told to trust no one in the deadly game she's inherited, but she has no choice but to partner up with ex Special Ops Ry O'Malley, whose father's past is the gateway to understanding this lethal enigma. Pursuing the deadly secret unlocks shocking revelations which make them the target of enemies ranging from the Russian mob to high-ranking officials on Capital Hill to privately trained assassins. Betrayal awaits them at every turn as they race to solve the riddle behind an ancient religious icon. A priceless artifact worth killing for. The dark and unimaginable promise of a power that could change the world as we know it.


Author Philip Carter is indeed an enigma, all the information available for readers to find out about him is that the name is a pseudonym for a internationally renowned writer, which creates another mystery in itself. Carter, whoever he may be, has crafted a novel that is suspenseful, mysterious and definitely thrilling. Readers will be swept away by this sweeping novel that will captivate even the most staid of readers.

When Zoe Dmitroff receives a cryptic letter from her grandmother, she is shocked and full of questions. Somewhere in the frozen tundra of Siberia lies a frozen lake, with a waterfall that hides a sacred cave. Inside the caves lies the altar of bones, a veritable fountain of youth, and more questions than answers. Zoe's family has cared for the altar and it's secrets for generations, passed down from mother to daughter. Now Zoe is the "keeper" of the altar and she is charged to guard it's secrets with her life. Zoe sets off on a whirlwind adventure with ex-DEA agent Ry O'Malley in tow. Chased by the Russian mob, a femme fatale and top government officials, it's up to Zoe and Ry to figure out the secrets of the altar and how this religious relic could change the world.

Philip Carter gives readers a book that is full of all things that make a great thriller: secrets, betrayal, lost treasure, and even a touch of the supernatural. This book has a little bit of everything and will appeal to a wide range of readers, especially those who are interested in political intrigue and conspiracy theories. When I read a good thriller I always speculate as to whether I think it is plausible for this scenario to play out in the real world. There were definitely parts of this one that fit the bill and others that were a bit of a stretch for me.

The two main characters Zoe and Ry were very well developed and readers will find them both easy to identify with and fun to read about. Carter, manages to even throw in a bit of romance toward the end of the book, that I felt really added to the overall appeal of the novel, at least from a woman's perspective. Zoe had been warned that men would try to entice her, tempt her and eventually steal the secret if she allowed it to happen. Zoe was a really strong character but she also showed vulnerability in the fact that she continually questioned Ry's feelings for her. She was unsure of herself in some ways.

Ry on the other hand was exactly what readers would expect from a former Special Ops agent. He was tough, strong and very determined. He was the kind of character that knew exactly what he wanted and he went for it on a daily basis. He did not do things half way and that was one of the traits that I really liked about him. When he set his mind to something, that something got done or else. He was very dependable and provided a sense of security to the book. The chemistry between Ry and Zoe was kept on the down low for most of the book, but ramps up toward the end.

This book is chalk full of car chases and fights. It was a bit over the top when it came to the action scenes. But, all of that kept to the theme of the book and created a really blistering pace. It's one of the those books you find yourself speeding up in your reading. The more the action the faster you read. It was definitely a page-turner.

There were lots of idea's and theories for readers to ponder from presidential assassinations to the immortality and what that would mean for our current society. I couldn't help but theorize as to who the writer of this book could be as I read. There were elements of several different writers present in my opinion. It put me in the mind of Dan Brown in some ways and Tom Clancy in others. We may not know who Philip Carter is, but it's easy to tell, this isn't his first go-round as a writer. The book is exceptionally well written. I recommend this one to thriller readers as well those who are just interested in a good old fashioned treasure hunt.

Altar of Bones is available NOW from your favorite bookseller.

I'm giving this one 4 out of 5 apples from my book bag!

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