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Amen

Novel by John Hyde (UK) 1981.

Tom Mott is an experienced and seemingly indestructible field reporter for CBS News. When a friend in Iran gives him an ancient manuscript to deliver to a priest in Rome, he finds himself drawn into a war greater than any he has ever covered: the eternal war between good and evil. Strange occurrences in Rome lead him to swap Middle Eastern conflict for rural Irish tranquillity. But soon after his arrival, that tranquillity is shattered with an increasing number of bizarre local murders. The Vatican views Mott as an integral part of the proceedings, but which part?

John Hyde's second novel draws much on his own background in numerous spheres from mining to television. As such the detail is lucid and convincing. But Amen's major success is its impeccable composition. It walks the perfect fine line between gore and restraint, flashback and plot progression, background detail and getting on with the story. As a result, the pace is swift but never out of control: a lesson in construction. Plotwise, its nearest comparison could well be The Sentinel, which deals with a similar concept from a different angle. Jeffrey Konvitz's work is without doubt the more influential of the two, but this is the superior novel and ultimately the more satisfying.


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