Macmillan | 2018 (4 October) | 576p | Review copy | Buy the book
Ross Hunter is a freelance investigative journalist who is about to get the story of his life, all thanks to a former Art History lecturer Dr Harry Cook. For Harry Cook has, he insists, absolute proof that God exists and Ross is the medium God has chosen to reveal the truth to the world. Ross wants to dismiss Harry as a crank but there is something about the man that makes him want to trust him and, what’s more, he offers proof for what he says – three sets of coordinates will lead Ross to clues to the truth, beginning with a location in Glastonbury before taking Ross further and further afield. What Ross will discover in Glastonbury will change everything. But he is not alone on the hunt. Others will kill for what Ross knows, either to suppress it or to steal it. Because, as a Bishop friend says to Ross when he asks what would happen if a man could prove the existence of God – that man would be killed.
Peter James is an author I’ve enjoyed for quite some time, not just for his Roy Grace detective series but also for his stand alone novels, such as the ghost story The House on Cold Hill. Absolute Proof is a substantial and ambitious stand alone thriller that not only fascinates – there are some huge themes here – but it also grips. It’s extremely compelling, not least because it feels so vast in its scope.
Ross Hunter is the main character of the novel but there are many others we get to know as well, some of whom are as evil as sin. There are representatives of big business, of religion, of crime, each of whom is invested in what Ross may discover. The TV preacher Wesley Wenceslas and his henchman, fetchingly named Pope, particularly stand out. I always looked forward to their sections of the novel.
There are some moments in Absolute Proof that took my breath away. There are others that shocked me. In this book you rarely know what lies around the corner. I liked that! I do think, though, that the novel is a little too long at almost 600 pages. There are episodes and characters that the book could have done without in my opinion, especially radio presenter Sally Hughes. Ross’s dalliance is a distraction that halts the plot too frequently. Having said that I thought the novel a little too long, in other ways I wanted more of it! More of the themes and characters that really intrigued from the beginning, such as the pope’s messenger. Also, the book makes it clear that the absolute proof is for God – the God of all religions – but there is a great deal about the Christian God and not much about the other faiths. The themes of the novel are just so vast, so significant, that it almost seems too huge for just one book.
I thoroughly enjoyed Absolute Proof. As I’ve mentioned, it’s a substantial novel but I was glued to it for two wonderful days, reading it very quickly (for me). It’s a clever book, full of ideas and thought. You can tell how much the author was invested in his story. It’s one of those wonderful thrillers that I almost wish I hadn’t read just so I could have the pleasure of reading it again! I can imagine comparisons will be made with Dan Brown’s thrillers but, to my mind, there is no comparison. Absolute Proof is a well-written and thoughtful thriller that is packed full of adventure and action. Ross Hunter stands alone against the world. He just has to hope that God is on his side.