Author: Scott Mariani
Publication Date: 29th January 2015
Source: Review Copy
When ex-SAS soldier Ben Hope returned to Ireland to forget his troubles, he should have known that trouble would not be far behind.
The brutal murder of a young woman plunges Ben into a deadly intrigue and a breathless chase across the globe, with only a handful of clues to go on.
His quest leads him to Oklahoma, USA, where a shocking historical secret, buried for a hundred and fifty years, is about to explode. The killers will do anything to hide the truth, but now they're going to pay ...
I only read my first Scott Mariani novel in 2014, The Nemesis Program and I absolutely loved it. I was therefore very excited to receive an early copy of The Forgotten Holocaust and couldn't wait to read it. The blurb on Amazon gives away a lot of plot details, so the blurb above is from the back of the actual book and doesn't give away as much of the plot. With books like this it is always best to go into them knowing as little as possible, else the 'mystery' isn't much of a mystery at all. Also it was some 100 plus pages before we got past what the blurb reveals and the real action started, this book is a bit of a slow starter and I was waiting longer than expected for that adrenaline rush to kick in and remain with me for the rest of the book, as it did in The Nemesis Program. The Forgotten Holocaust is my second 5* rating of 2015, which is a sign of how much I enjoyed it.
Ben Hope has returned to Ireland with no real idea of what his future holds, he is drifting. His fiancee has left him, his son wants nothing to do with him and his sister is still furious with him after the events of the previous novel. Rather than confuse me as I fear books like this will sometimes do, the mystery in this book was absolutely gripping, thought-provoking and believable and once again highlights Mariani's ability to take historical events and completely change everything previously believed about them, and to do it in a completely plausible way. This time around it is the Great Famine of 1845-52 in Ireland, an event that has been greatly speculated about over the years and this book has left me wanting to read more about that period of time.
Ben Hope could find trouble in an empty room, or perhaps that should be trouble would find him. This time around it comes in the form of a young journalist, who is writing a biography of the wife of a Lord who was a prominent figure during the time of the famine. No sooner has he met her than she winds up dead, and Ben soon discovers links between her research and some high up people in the USA, namely Tulsa, Oklahoma. What the connection is between those people and the secrets from the time of the famine is unknown to Ben at this point, but he is determined to avenge the young journalist's death to find out what the connection is and this was the turning point in this book for me. It was 1.30am, my eyes were closing and I was this close to abandoning the book for the night, before something happened that completely woke me up, and I nearly managed to read the rest of the book before sleep won out.
As always those relentless, barely giving you time to breathe scenes are back with a vengeance, and once again Ben finds himself facing and escaping death on more than one occasion. Where this story really stood out for me was in its mystery element, and what connected the famine to some very powerful people in Oklahoma. Certain things are made clear to the reader early on, but the connection isn't and it was a slap in the face moment when all was revealed as the book's conclusion drew near and I did not see it coming. It was brilliant, unexpected and a totally believable plot twist. Mariani is a master storyteller and the Ben Hope series has plenty of life left in it yet, in fact book eleven isn't all that far off and the preview at the end of this book has left me more than ready for its release. I think returning readers will love this book too, but new readers, like me, will be ecstatic at having discovered a fantastic main character and a whole back catalogue of books just waiting to be devoured.