Naples, 1750. In the dead of night, three men with swords burst into the bed chamber of the Marquis de Montferrat. Their leader, Raimundo di Sangro – the Prince of San Severo – accuses him of being an imposter, and demands to know a secret he believes the marquis harbors. The false marquis resists and manages to escape, leaving behind a burning palazzo and a raging prince now obsessed with finding his quarry – and his secret – at any cost.
Baghdad, 2003. An army unit tracking Saddam’s cronies stages a spectacular raid on a fortified villa and makes a horrifying discovery in its basement: a state- of-the-art, concealed lab where dozens—men, women, children—have died, the subjects of gruesome experiments. The mysterious scientist they were after, a man believed to be working on a bioweapon and known only as the hakeem—the doctor—escapes, taking with him the startling truth about his work. In one of his victims’ cells, a puzzling clue is left behind: an Ouroboros – the tail devourer – a circular symbol of a snake that’s feeding on its own tail.
As the power of the symbol comes to light, revealing the centuries of mystery and pain left in its wake, one unsuspecting woman – Mia Bishop, a geneticist – stands at the center of a conspiracy that could change the world forever. From Baghdad to the chaos of a Beirut still reeling from a fresh war in the fall of 2006, to the lost villages of eastern Turkey and northern Iraq by way of epic chapters set in eighteenth century Europe, and in the masterful hands of bestseller Raymond Khoury, The Sanctuary delivers the same rapid-fire suspense and provocative scholarship that made The Last Templar such a hit.
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Reviews of The Sanctuary
"Here is one of those novels that spans centuries, interweaves stories from past and present, and involves a brave hero trying to uncover the truth behind an ancient conspiracy that unnamed individuals will kill to protect. It’s hardly a new premise, but here’s the good thing: in Khoury’s hands, it feels fresh and exciting again. When archaeology professor Evelyn Bishop is kidnapped, her daughter, Mia, vows to find her and to find the secret behind the artifacts that apparently led to Evelyn’s abduction. Her odyssey takes her into unexpected corners of history, quickly putting her own life at risk. The action takes place mostly in Iraq but also journeys to eighteenth-century Italy and present-day Lebanon. The large cast of characters includes plenty of villainous types, including “the hakeem,” a doctor whose grisly medical experiments seem linked to a centuries-old mystery. There are dozens of ways this novel could have collapsed under its own narrative weight, but Khoury makes the conspiracy feel utterly believable and imbues his characters with infectious passion for finding the truth. A surefire hit with fans of conspiracy-based historical thrillers."
David Pitt, Booklist
"Screenwriter Raymond Khoury won great reviews for his rollicking debut, The Last Templar, and the signs are that he will achieve more of the same with this one. Ancient, mysterious clues mingle with the latest scientific advances in this cinematic thriller. The pace is fast, the dialogue sharp, the characters plausible. Khoury knows what he is doing."
Glasgow Evening Times (Scotland)
"The scenes set in Lebanon are atmospheric, and the author catches well the febrile aura of that beautiful and troubled country. Khoury is a screenwriter and the novel’s tight construction and hyper-fast pacing owe an obvious debt to that discipline. Comparisons with Dan Brown are inevitable but, in truth, Khoury is a much better writer. Overall, the book delivers a high-octane rollercoaster ride of thrills and spills."
Hugh Bonar, The Irish Mail on Sunday
"Khoury’s specialty is melding extensive historical research into a blockbuster thriller narrative, and that is a trick he pulls off again in his new book. From a sinister experimental camp in Saddam’s Baghdad to every dark corner of the globe, Khoury ensures that the pace never relents."
The Good Book Guide (UK)