Tom Knox, a pseudonym for English author and journalist Sean Thomas, has made a nice career out of creating historical fiction that blends with anthropological studies and pushes the envelope. His latest effort, THE BABYLON RITE, is packed with intrigue and suspense with a plot that includes Templar legend, mass suicide, and the commerce of dealing with some extremely dangerous drugs.
Journalist Adam Blackwood comes across a famous Templar Knights scholar by the name of Archibald McClintock while visiting the Rosslyn Chapel in Midlothian. Archibald behaves strangely and babbles something to Adam about being wrong in his interpretation of the Templar secrets. Moments later, Archibald drives his car into a wall and is killed immediately in the impact.
"This is a chilling and truly frightening tale that deftly blends science fiction with ancient historical secrets."
Thus begins THE BABYLON RITE, a novel that Knox kicks off with a quote from Saint Bernard of Clairvaux in A.D. 1135: “It seems that a new knightly order has recently been born in the Orient. They do not fear death; instead, they long for death.” This quotation specifically references the Knights Templar who allegedly all chose death at the final moment of their lives when they were cornered by their enemies. The end they chose involved jumping to their deaths from a castle tower.
Adam begins to follow up on some of the cryptic things Archibald told him before committing suicide and finds an unnerving resemblance in both his fate and those of the Templar Knights by whom he was so enthralled. Adam needs to meet up with Archibald’s daughter, Nina, who lives in Scotland. Among other things, he wants to find out if she can shed some light on her father’s final message indicating that the Templars were connected to everything.
Simultaneous to this activity is a dual narrative involving an anthropologist named Jessica Silverton, who has uncovered some controversial artifacts while on a dig in Peru. The origin of these artifacts is the ancient Moche tribe, and the items and pictures all depict eerie scenes of death, bestiality and sexual depravity. The amount of death and killing she views makes her physically ill but also intrigues her. Jessica then fears that she may have awoken an ancient evil and a god of death that will never be sated.
The two narratives eventually meld when Adam and Nina cross paths with Jessica as their independent searches put them on the same path. Could the source of the suicide cult that has plagued London have something to do with an ancient evil that both the Moche tribe and Knights Templar all were obsessed with? Even more frightening is the premise that this evil could be transmitted in the form of a powerful and deadly drug that many drug cartels and other dangerous groups will stop at nothing to possess.
THE BABYLON RITE literally refers to an initiation ritual that involved violent and depraved acts committed in the name of pagan gods. Tom Knox takes readers on a plight through ancient history that culminates in a deadly trip through the Amazon, where tribal head-hunters are far from the scariest characters who pop up. This is a chilling and truly frightening tale that deftly blends science fiction with ancient historical secrets.
Reviewed by Ray Palen on May 10, 2013