Publication Date: January 25, 2016
Imagine seeing your obituary in the paper just before assassins break into your home. In False Prophet (A Saul Marshall Thriller Book) by Richard Davis, a cult starts killing people and Agent Saul Marshall is on the case. When that cult kidnaps Saul’s son, he may officially be off of the case, but the rules have changed and it’s winner take all. False Prophet is the first book in the Saul Marshall Thriller series. False Prophet was given to me as an advanced reader’s copy (ARC) in exchange for my review.
False Prophet is a story that starts with the reader as an observer in a moment that would be a credit to any horror movie. A man sees his obituary in the newspaper, hears his missing son’s voice and then the killers descend. The scene is so stunningly choreographed and artfully crafted that the air leaves the reader’s lungs and the need to know how that kill was brought about drives the reader into the up and down thrill-a-minute ride with the wise-cracking, rule-breaking, Agent Saul Marshall. False Prophet is a race against time that readers will rarely want to put down. The dishes can wait, Saul’s son needs saving now!
False Prophet is the first book in the Saul Marshall series and, as such, it does suffer from some disadvantages. Saul is a classic loose cannon who has done too much and seen too much and who is a few steps ahead of everyone. Of course, he knows everything and he’s one of those guys that tells us everything he knows. Davis is clearly a well-informed guy and one that feels a responsibility to share with his readers that information that drives the story. Saul is a conman. He’s trained to notice everything and he tells us everything he notices. As in the case of Barry Eisler’s John Rain, there are times that the minutia reads as action but mostly it dances around the edges of distracting from what is really a very fast reading piece.
Ivan Drexler is exactly what you’d expect from a really good thriller baddie in that he is completely insane and deliciously brutal. Any thinking person would be terrified that someone like him could be walking the streets undetected and he would be undetected. He’s a cult leader with a compelling personality who has escaped from an asylum and is driven by his hate of Saul. Drexler is a true sociopath in the manner Moriarty as played by Andrew Scott (Sherlock). There’s a brilliance to the character that must have been impossibly tricky to write and tells me that once the reader settles into his world, he’s going to be unstoppable.
Saul, as with characters of his genre, is a little bit awesome, but there are hints at things that the reader wants to know more about. For all of his observance and explaining you know that the various things he’s hinted that he’s done were pulled off with a panache that would be fun to read. Had the author included those stories in this first volume, I would have complained but that doesn’t mean the appetite wasn’t sparked. In this series, the author will eventually have to explore his main character’s start. Like in the Jack Reacher series, so much was hinted at and so little was said. Davis must have had a very good editor because for the overflow of information, I didn’t notice any technical errors at all.
If you’ve gotten the idea that I liked False Prophet, you’d be right. I wouldn’t label it a five-star book, but I am pretty sure that subsequent books will be. As is suited for the genre, the first story is personal but one gets the sense from Saul that it will always be personal. Saul is that guy. He is that loose cannon and that’s exactly what makes me want to read him again.
If you’re looking for a wonderful thriller read that is extremely well written and flows quickly, pick False Prophet up today.
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