Review: RYDER by Nick Pengelley

As a kid, I always enjoyed a good scavenger hunt. As I got older, the clues would get more complex. I guess this probably started when my sister would babysit the kids of a family friend (my sister is  11 years older than me) and she would bring me along. My sister and the older of the siblings that she babysat would plan a scavenger hunt with mysterious clues for me and the younger sibling to search for. I loved it.

Now that I’m older, I enjoy a good book or movie with mysterious clues that lead to the next one. Sometimes, you might know what you are looking for and other times the prize at the end is unknown. I guess there is something enchanting that at the end of a hunt a person could find a lost treasure–something like piles of gold, a lost city like Atlantis, or some other ancient treasure or artifacts that have moved into legend. The fact that this novel included the Ark of the Covenant in it’s description intrigued me. It brought to mind movies like Indiana Jones and National Treasure (both of which I enjoy). I knew I wanted to go on an adventure, and this seemed like a good novel to lead the way.

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**I received a free copy of this book from TLC Book Tours in exchange for my honest review**

Ayesha Ryder bears the scars of strife in the Middle East. Now her past is catching up to her as she races to unravel a mystery that spans centuries—and threatens to change the course of history. As Israeli and Palestinian leaders prepare to make a joint announcement at the Tower of London, an influential scholar is tortured and murdered in his well-appointed home in St. John’s Wood. Academic researcher Ayesha Ryder believes the killing is no coincidence. Sir Evelyn Montagu had unearthed shocking revelations about T. E. Lawrence—the famed Lawrence of Arabia. Could Montagu have been targeted because of his discoveries? Ryder’s search for answers takes her back to her old life in the Middle East and into a lion’s den of killers and traitors. As she draws the attention of agents from both sides of the conflict, including detectives from Scotland Yard and MI5, Ryder stumbles deeper into Lawrence’s secrets, an astounding case of royal blackmail, even the search for the Bible’s lost Ark of the Covenant. Every step of the way, the endgame grows more terrifying. But when an attack rocks London, the real players show their hand—and Ayesha Ryder is left holding the final piece of the puzzle.

I always enjoy an action-packed novel, and Ryder, by Nick Pengelley, definitely fits into that category. With every chapter, the stakes are raised a little bit more.

The storyline is both action and mystery. With every page, I found myself trying to unravel a bit of the mystery, especially the pieces surrounding T.E. Lawrence. But it is the action that pushes the story forward. The novel is an intriguing blend of history and modern politics. In some ways, I found the political aspects hard to follow, but then again, I don’t typically keep up with the political happenings in the world very well. In this case, it happens to be the political climate surrounding the Middle East. For this novel, it made keeping track of some characters and groups a bit confusing at times. But I think the fault is more with me. By the end of the novel, I had things a bit more straightened out.

As for the characters, I would have enjoyed a bit more development. My favorite novels are character driven ones, or at least ones that have a a pretty well-developed main character. In this novel, Ayesha Ryder’s story is given to us in a number of flashbacks, but I never felt like I really got a true sense of who she really is. The kinds of things that make her tick. She just felt shallow, and while I didn’t want to see anything bad happen to her, I wasn’t emotionally attached.

I did appreciate the mystery of the novel. In many ways, it kind of reminded me of a scavenger hunt. One clue would lead to the next, but they were never straight forward, and with a few dead ends thrown in for good measure. While I did enjoy this aspect overall, I felt a little bit let down with the convenience that certain pieces would fall together. Just when a character would be about ready to give up on solving something, a picture would pop up or someone who had obscure knowledge about something would be readily available.

In January, a sequel is planned to be released. I think this novel made a good building block for future books in the series in which I hope the main characters will be further developed and the plot become a bit, well, less easily solved. I did enjoy reading the novel overall. It was a fast read and I was anxious to get to the end to find out how everything would connect together. But, I must leave a word of caution to my blog readers. This is a secular novel, and does contain some profanity and violent imagery.

TLC Book Tours is also hosting a giveaway to celebrate the launch of this novel. Click here to enter to win a copy of RYDER as well as a $25 gift card to the eBook retailer of your choice.

I would love to hear from you! Do you enjoy suspenseful novels? What are some of your favorites?

For more on the author or this book, please check out the following links:

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