The Tower (Sancti Trilogy Book 3) by Simon Toyne

If you have been scoring at home, I have been trying to fit more books into my schedule by listening to audio books in the car and on the walk to work, etc.  I have been on the look out for interesting audio books at library sales but then I realized I could check out audio books from local libraries and listen to them on my phone and iPad with Overdrive.

This led me to finish the Sancti Trilogy by Simon Toyne. I read Sanctus two years ago and then caught up by listening to The Key this summer.  I decided to keep going and listen to The Tower as well. Like the last book, I listened to this one in the car and on my phone.

And like the last book, I really enjoyed it in this format. Somehow the thriller aspects shine better in audio than on the page (or at least that has been my experience). I tune out the anti-religion stuff and focus on the conspiracy theory puzzle and thriller suspense and action.

Allow me to steal this plot summary from Publishers Weekly:

Federal agents probe a computer attack on the Hubble telescope, ostensibly the work of a religious cult, in this anxiety-inducing final addition to a trilogy by Toyne (Sanctus, The Key). The salty FBI veteran Franklin teams with recruit Shepherd, a Cambridge-educated cosmologist, to stay ahead of an enigmatic countdown, track missing scientists, and contend with a creepy duo of assassins guided by “the Archangel”. Meanwhile, global civilization halts as everyone rushes home, submitting to a strange emotion—”like that feeling you get when you’re running late,” in Shepherd’s chilling phrase. It’s all linked to the outbreak, eight months earlier, of a lethal affliction known as “the blight.” Originating from the Citadel, a religious cloister in a fictional Turkish city,, the disease separates journalist Liv Adamsen from her love Gabriel Mann. As they seek to reunite, a religious prophecy may lead everyone to the end of days.

This volume is somewhat unique in that so much of the action takes place outside the Citadel. Franklin and Shepherd really are the focus for the first part of the book as they seek to understand what is behind the attacks on space observatories like Hubble and Goddard and as they deal with their own past and its impact on both their relationship and the case.

As we move toward the end Liv and Gabriel come back into focus and we begin to see how all of these prophesies work together and what it means for the planet.  Of course, the Citadel still plays a larger role in the story arc and its secrets lie at the heart of the mystery.  But the center of gravity seems to be elsewhere.

Publishers Weekly’s conclusion captures the book well:

Toyne’s descriptive skill makes for a story that is cinematically vivid. With many characters separated by time and space, the plot takes a while to cohere, but the relentless pace makes the action addicting.

I think this is why I enjoyed the audio books more than the first book. the cinematic descriptions really come through with the theatrical reading, if you will, providing extra oomph.  And the pacing makes you want to listen; sucks you into the story.

As I noted above and before, I don’t take any potential messaging about religions and conspiracy theories seriously. [Spoiler Alert!!!] I have to say I found the part where the Citadel library burns disturbing and not all that convincing, frankly. Disturbing because it pains me to think about the destruction of books and historical texts even if it is fictional. Unconvincing because it is a kind of cop-out to arrange for the destruction of any and all evidence in one fell swoop. Want proof that the church is lying about history and changed key documents to position its faith and keep its secrets? Sorry, they were destroyed by an extremist working from within.

But these are just caveats. It was an entertaining and enjoyable finish to a well done thriller series. If you enjoy vivid descriptions and fast pacing or thrillers with a global religious conspiracy thread you will enjoy the Sancti Trilogy.

And if, like me, you are finding it hard to squeeze in any more books, try it on audio. Makes any travel go that much faster.

Kevin Holtsberry
I work in communications and public affairs. I try to squeeze in as much reading as I can while still spending time with my wife and two kids (and cheering on the Pittsburgh Steelers and Michigan Wolverines during football season).

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