I think I picked up STONE OF FIRE at exactly the right moment. After a week filled with dark and distressing headlines, it was a fantastic relief to immerse myself in a piece of sheer escapism.
That’s what it is at its core – unpretentious escapist fun. It’s just happy whisking you from exotic locale to exotic locale, asking you to cling on to its helter-skelter spirit of adventure and not look back. Whisked together in its story of powerful ephemera from Jesus’s time, are an Oxford academic with military skills, a secret organisation, another secret (but more evil) organisation, and a mad American billionaire with a diabolical scheme. The whole thing is preposterous, but undeniably gripping in its bonkers way.
This week Roger Moore also died, the kind of news which, when it broke in context of Tuesday, made me feel how lucky and incredible it is that some people get to live to eighty-nine and have full and rich lives. But STONE OF FIRE, as well as stealing me away from the horrible headlines, also seemed like a strange tribute to him.
To describe this book succinctly, it’s basically a Roger Moore James Bond film with a thick topping of religious Macguffins.