I received an ARC copy from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.
The Lazarus Prophecy is the first book that I have read by F.G. Cottam although he is popular among my book friends. Now I can certainly see why.
It is an accurate description to call this a supernatural crime story but it is much more than that. The Lazarus Prophecy really elevates the form, like The Club Dumas did years ago. And it does it with fine writing, great characters, a horrifying villain, and a very intricate, layered plot that reaches back to the time of Christ. He also does it with tremendous description and sense of place. I had a strong sense of London (both present and 1880’s) and that mountain keep that houses the monks of the Order of , who we have never heard of but who nonetheless have literally saved the world many times over.
Cottam begins by flipping back and forth between two story lines. The first is a really well done police procedural with the difference being that the killer is supernatural, although they don’t know that yet. The second story line deals with a secret order of monks living in a mountain keep. Ordained by St. Peter himself, they remain secret because if the general population knew of their existence and more importantly WHY they exist it would be too much. Sort of a “You can’t handle the truth” situation if ever there was one. They are accurately described as "God's gaolers." At this point in the novel I was impressed by how well Cottam handled both aspects—the crime story and the supernatural one. I think it is quite rare to be this versatile. John Connolly does it. So does Cottam.
The plotting was especially well done. Slowly building tension to a climax and then, right near the end of the book (judging by the amount of chapters left) we suddenly are dropped down a rabbit hole into 1888 London. Distracting? Jarring? Not at all. It was my favorite part of the book. So go ahead and add a strong and equally well done historical aspect to the description of this novel. I went from really liking this book to loving it. And when we returned to present for what could be called “round 2’” Cottam has set up a no holds barred white knuckle ride to the finale.