Raymond Khoury’s The Templar Salvation (2010) sequel to The Last Templar (2006) is better than the original. Like the original, The Templar Salvation presents a story of lost/hidden church secrets with dual time lines, a lot of historical detail, and plenty of action.
In the present day, Khoury brings back FBI agent Sean Reilly and archeologist Tess Chaykin in a race with terrorist Mansoor Zahed to find a cache of early Christian documents. In 1203, while the Fourth Crusade siege of Constantinople is in progress, a small band of Templars sets out to rescue and then hide the same set of documents. In both time lines, the Catholic church doesn’t want the documents to come to light.
The Last Templar featured an amazing opening scene. The Templar Salvation’s opening, while slightly less spectacular is action-oriented and inventive. Tess is in danger. Sean rushes to the rescue and, in spite of the law enforcement resources available in Turkey and at the Vatican, becomes the point man in a search for Tess, Mansoor, the documents, and a variety of people who end up dead.
The Templar Salvation is more tightly woven than The Last Templar. It also contains fewer “talky scenes” where Tess and/or Sean explain elements of the 1203 story to present day police officers as though 800-year-old information trumps current evidence or the need to get out of the squad room with some sense of urgency. The Templar Salvation might be called “The Book That Will Not End.” Tess, Sean and Mansoor find themselves within nanoseconds of being killed (or worse) numerous times throughout the story only to escape/survive and keep on searching, fighting or running.
Nonetheless, the improbable story somehow makes for more exciting reading than The Last Templar. The Templar Salvation is a violent, tangled, twisted, groaner kind of escapist read that features the kind of over-the-top, don’t-worry-about-civilian-deaths-and-collateral-damage law enforcement that viewers of the TV series “24” tuned in every week to see.
Like agent Jack Bauer in “24,” Sean Reilly is as relentless as a Terminator in his quest for neutralizing the bad guys and possibly obtaining justice. And, like Jack, Sean keeps going, going and going even though his wounds would have killed ten normal men.
The book is a guilty pleasure.