Peter James is best known for his ‘Dead’-titled crime novels, the Detective Superintendent Roy Grace series, although he has an equally impressive number of stand-alone novels, of which Absolute Proof is his latest.
Reporter Ross Hunter is a survivor of a discovered extra-marital affair, and a volatile attack while on location in a military zone which almost cost him his life. Back in the UK, he receives a phone call from a Dr Harry Cook, who tells Hunter that he has irrefutable proof of God’s existence.
Cook offers up his manuscript to encourage Hunter’s engagement in the worldwide search for the items that will support his revelation but, from the moment of their first meeting, Hunter becomes the hunted. He is watched, stalked and pursued with vehement and violent determination by a secretive, yet not-secret group, Kerr Kluge. Hunter undertakes an Indiana Jones-like journey, around the world, to uncover the proof and the truth.
The novel is driven by the greatest of all proponents for the on-going lack of the proof of God’s existence – the Catholic Church (for with proof, there goes faith); the medical fraternity (cashing in on modern medicine, rather than faith healing) and the died-hard atheist (with a pinch of the infinite monkeys theorem). Its climatic reveal is challenging, in more ways than one, in a true ‘must be seen, to be believed’ moment.
This is a dense and heavy read – both in weight and, at times, in thought-provoking nature. It requires suspension of disbelief and a comfy seat to enjoy the ride. Like other novels of its ilk, it has the potential to be a thrilling televisual or cinematic piece.
It gave this reviewer the feeling that James has opted to arrive late to the quasi-religious thriller party, especially considering his Author’s Note that it was inspired by a nearly 30-year-old phone call. That said, fans of the genre, for which Dan Brown and The Da Vinci Code are the most commonly recognised, are likely to thrill at Ross Hunter’s exploits.
Reviewed by Glen Christie
Rating out of 10: 7
Distributed by: Pan Macmillan Australia
Released: September 2018