Amy Myers is known for her short stories and historical novels featuring Victorian chef Auguste Didier and chimney sweep Tom Wasp. Her contemporary series features classic car detective Jack Colby, and she is currently working on a new 1920s mystery series featuring Nell Drury, chef at Kent’s Wychbourne Court.
Manda Scott’s acclaimed thriller The Crystal Skull is now reissued in mass paperback to coincide with the release of the film 2012, and renamed accordingly. The reader is left in no doubt that the year 2012 fast approaches – which makes this novel even more scary.
This well written epic, successor to the author’s highly praised Boudica quartet, is based on the prediction of the Mayas, and also of other ancient astronomers and mathematicians, that the world will come to a sudden end in 2012; this apocalypse will be brought about by mankind’s own folly. The only hope of rescue from this approaching apocalypse is through the crystal skull, the author’s inspiration for which is to be seen in the British Museum. In this novel it is carved from a magnificent sapphire of great beauty; in previous ages murder has dogged the steps of all who came in contact with it but the world’s hope of survival lies in breaking the code which protects the skull’s secrets.
The novel’s opening scene plunges the reader into the heart of the modern day search for the skull, called the blue heartstone; in the sixteenth century it is under the protection of Cedric Owen, a sixteenth-century doctor whose destiny it is to preserve its secrets. Over four centuries later, Dr Stella Cody, newly married to Kit O’Connor of Bede College, Cambridge, who believes he has broken the code, has chosen a wedding present for both Kit and herself; they will travel to the Yorkshire dales to search for the stone which they believe lies in the deep caves of Ingleborough. They discover the cavern where they believe it might be, but realise that they are being followed. Someone else is after the stone, but Stella is driven by the realisation that she alone must find it.
What happens thereafter kept me glued to Stella’s quest, which is related side by side with the sixteenth century story of Cedric Owen. Although as the story builds I felt that the complications of the theme were beginning to outrun the characters (as I also felt with The Da Vinci Code ), it is a exciting one and gripping. Previously the only sword Damocles was waving over my head for 2012 was the Olympics; that’s all changed after reading 2012 – The Crystal Skull. Manda Scott’s new novel, Rome: The Emperor’s Spy, will be published early next year, and I’m looking forward both to that and to its successors. How many successors only Damocles knows...