Trying to get a new novel recognized is difficult when you are an unknown author, but when the story is in the religious thriller genre then surely you are attempting the near impossible. Dan Brown first published Angels and Demons in 2000, and perhaps most famously of all the Da Vinci Code in 2003. Since then he has produced another three novels featuring Professor Robert Langdon and themes of crime, religious conspiracy and speculation. The genre has continued to grow and attract established authors such as Robert Harris. Not surprisingly therefore, my first reaction on seeing the eye-catching cover of Lux Domini by Alex Thomas was if this is his first novel he has no chance.
I was wrong on three counts. Firstly, Alex Thomas is not a he, it is a they – a husband and wife writing team. Secondly this is not their first novel, far from it. They have published a string of novels since 2011, many in the religious thriller genre. All have been written in German, but Lux Domini is the first to appear in English. Finally, I think they do have a chance, because if Lux Domini is typical of their work then they should succeed.
Lux Domini is a well-constructed thriller, which grabs your attention from the first page. Having committed suicide, two mysterious scrolls are found on the body of Judas Iscariot when it is being cut down for burial. Fast forward to 1978 with the discovery of the secret library of Pope Pius X11 below the St Peter's Basilica in Rome. Add a Catholic sister with a psychic gift and the murder of her mentor at the Catholic Institute for the Psychically Gifted and you have the beginnings of a first rate story.
I am not a great fan of religious thrillers, the few I have read often seem too formulaic, but Lux Domini was different. It kept me wanting to just read another chapter to see what happens next, and suddenly it was early morning! The research behind the story appears to be extensive and thorough and adds to the credibility of it all. One of the main characters Sister Catherine Bell has already appeared in three more novels published in Germany. I am sure that it will only be a short while before these appear in English.
I will certainly keep a look out for them, but this time ensure that I can afford a sleepless night or two before starting them. It goes to show that just because a famous name has got there first, there is nothing to stop others having a go. A good story is a good story, and in my view Lux Domini is a very good story.