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Fast Track To Glory: An International Thriller (A Nina Monte Mystery Thriller Book 1) Kindle Edition
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Top customer reviews
Fast Track to G!ory is a good thriller with engaging characters and exceptiona!ly visual writing. Chrusciel's descriptions of travelling the roads in India are especially vivid, taking the reader right there. And the story is more than the average chase from clue to clue so frequently found in this type of adventure: it is thought provoking in parts and holds the hint of something more. But, although well written, for me the full story did not quite hold together with the opening chapters of the book, which, although involving, seemed later to be an unnecessary complication.
That said, it is a book which I both enjoyed and was glad to have read. It's echoes will stay with me into the future. My thanks to Book Reviews 22, from whom I received a complimentary copy.
One of the main reasons I loved the book so much was the authors attention to detail describing all the locations the story takes place within. Having actually never been to these locations, I felt the streets and lake scenery come to life and feel that should I visit these locations in the future, I will feel like I have already stepped foot in the area.
I really appreciated the tempo of the story and how the danger intensified the situation causing me to constantly say to myself, just one more chapter, to find out what happens next.
I must say this is the first piece of work that I have read from Tomasz Chrusciel, but I will be looking to buy his previous book based on this novel and truly look forward to his next piece of work, hopefully maybe on Nina and Alessandro's next adventure.
Great Value, money well spent
The use of international locales and the mixture of ancient beliefs with modern forces is delivered very well by the author. Not going into the plot in detail, this is a well-written, action-packed thriller, which will sweep you along with it on an epic journey across the World. One of the best thrillers I've read in a long time. Definitely a must-buy!
The story begins in Germany, before taking the reader on a whirlwind tour of Italy, Austria and India. Nina Monte, an Italian professor teaching at the History of Religions and the Ancient Worlds department in Padua, believes she’s been asked by the Italian Ministry of Culture to verify the authenticity of a relic recovered from a fifteenth-century shipwreck in Lake Garda. She’s consulted on antiquities cases before and has no reason to be suspicious of the request. She arrives at the Heidelburg Castle in Germany to examine this mysterious object, only to discover it has not yet been excavated from the maritime shipwreck. She’s sent to Italy to meet up with a member of the team responsible for recovering the artefact. When her contact person tries to kidnap then kill her, she realizes she’s been lured into a trap. But why?
The readers – alongside Nina – have to figure out why someone is prepared to murder and steal in order to obtain this relic, as well as discover the truth behind its alleged hidden powers. I’m going to have to stop describing the specific details of the story now for fear of spoiling any of the many plots twists in this book, which are what make it such an excellent and captivating read.
In the beginning of the novel, the villain seems to want the relic in order to achieve a higher spiritual power. During train, plane and automobile rides, the two main characters – Nina and Allessandro, a young hotelier from Malcesine and Nina’s unintentional partner on this journey – often discuss the implications of deciphering this relic’s supposed powers, within the context of spirituality, philosophy and religion.
I’m not a ‘new age’ type and the first few chapters, in which characters discuss the various interpretations of the relics true powers, had me concerned that this was going to get too spiritual for my tastes. I’m glad to say the author doesn’t overdo it. Rather, he uses the relic as a way of sharing various points of view and leaves it up to the reader to decide what to think, instead of shoving his perspective down your throat. Funny enough, the most popular highlighted passage in this book, according to my Kindle copy, is: “Every person wants to live in peace and abundance. What is different is the meaning of those things to each of us.”
Besides, the villian’s real reason for starting this quest is so smart and surprising down-to-earth, when it was finally revealed, I gained even more respect for the author.
Tomasz Chrusciel is a quite adept at misleading the reader. From the first page onwards, nothing is as it seems. In some books, this constant misdirection can be irritating. Yet in Fast Track to Glory, this technique works well, adding tension to the story and helping to keep the reader continually engaged with the plotline.
In contrast to most art history conspiracy novels, there are no long codes to decipher, a complex puzzle to solve or a lost language to learn; it’s more of a race to obtain the relic and then decipher it. Both the good and bad guys know who can read it; they just have to find that person.
It’s also unlike most thrillers and art conspiracy novels I’ve read, in that the spiritual quest and physical journey are almost more important to the story than the race to decode the artefact.
And what a quest it is. The author’s descriptions of architecture, people, manner of dress, landscapes, and even train stations, transport the reader to a series of beautiful and interesting locations. Once you get through with this book, you’ll be longing to pack your bags and visit the destinations the author so loving describes.
The many cities the characters visit are described in much more detail than your typical thriller or action-oriented novel, without slowing down the story or turning into a travelogue. These are tight and well-written, using all five senses to make each place come to life. You get the strong sense the author has spent time in all of the places he describes; his eye for detail is incredible.
Now onto our around the world journey. The story starts out at Heidelberg Castle before moving to Milan, Italy. There he paints a clear picture of the main square and the Duomo di Milano (a church in Milan) in particular; the white and pink marble exterior, snap-happy tourists, religious iconography and stained glass windows.
Next stop is the gorgeous Northern Italian town of Malcesine on Lake Garda. In addition to describing the lovely villages that dot the wide lake, the author also provides an interesting account of a character’s dives among ship wrecks.
Then we are off to Innsbruck, Austria via train, where the white peaks of the Alps dominate the skyline. Old Town and its gothic and baroque facades, Court Church, the tombs of Emperor Maximilian I, cuckoo clocks, homemade liquors, and even the smells of the strudels are recounted.
Last stop, India, where the characters are immediately thrown into the hustle and bustle of Jaipur. The suburban metropolis is awash with overfull buses, slow-going lorries, tuk-tuks, bicycles, motorists, mobile snack bars, scooters, and pedestrians, all fighting for space on the narrow roadways the main characters travel on to reach their destination, the location of the person who can decipher the object.
As I already mentioned, the author uses the context of a religious relic to take the reader on a search for enlightenment, and the story aptly ends in Varanasi, India on the Ganges River during a festival of light. You can feel the water lapping at your feet, hear thousands of chanting worshippers and smell the burning incense mixed with body odor wafting through the air.
This is my favorite kind of novel, one that takes me on a mental journey and travel adventure simultaneously. It’s also a real page turner, for as much to see how the story develops as the desire to know where the author will take us next.
This smart, well-written and highly enjoyable story will entertain lovers of thrillers, art conspiracy novels, and travel fiction alike. I highly recommend it.
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