Hobeck Books | 2021 (12 October) | c.400p | Review copy | Buy the book
Ella Blake is a much-respected and in-demand QC when she disappears from view, hiding in her van in Northumberland, finding a refuge in anonymity and the dramatic and historic landscape. It’s a false haven and, as she sinks, she knows that. The chance to repair herself comes from an unlikely source. A Cambridge University college wants her help. One of their dons, Matthew Shepherd, a genius polymath, has disappeared on the brink of discovering something that could change humanity’s future and understanding of the past. Ella is intrigued but, more importantly, heading to Cambridge will allow her to reconnect with her daughter Lizzie. But, as Ella digs deeper into the mysteries of Shepherd’s project and understands the magnitude of its significance, she soon realises that she is in deadly danger and so too are all those she holds dear.
I am a huge fan of thrillers that revolve around historical secrets, archaeological mysteries and enigmatic, dangerous organisations and so The Genesis Inquiry was a book I couldn’t wait to read as soon as I heard of it. What makes this book stand out, however, isn’t so much the mystery at the heart of it (although that is certainly intriguing), but its characters and the developing and changeable relationships between them. I really, really like Ella Blake. She is a woman in the prime of her life who has reached the pinnacle of her career but she has realised that it is built upon glass. She is vulnerable, wracked by guilt and anxiety, and yet you would never know it to look at her. Ella is very easy to relate to. Her relationships with her daughter, her daughter’s friends and with the US agent who helps them with their inquiry, bristles. But the warmth of Ella grows through the novel and it really is extremely compelling and engaging as we become increasingly close to her.
Having said all that, The Genesis Inquiry is a thriller and it is a very exciting affair, as Ella and the others travel great distances on the trail of both Matthew Shepherd and his scattered clues. Obviously, I will tell you nothing about any of that as I don’t want anything to dampen your curiosity as the pages fly though the pages. But I do love a mystery that revolves around ancient manuscripts, biblical texts and ancient and modern science. It all contributes to the importance and significance of the mystery that is to be discovered.
I thoroughly enjoyed The Genesis Inquiry. I loved the places, especially Cambridge and Lindisfarne. I did find that my interest in Ella exceeded the pull of the mystery but I believe that this is actually a tribute to the author’s writing, which I think is very good indeed. I really hope that we will get the chance to meet Ella Blake again.