Fiction Reviews

The Infernal Game: Ghost Dance

(2010) Rebecca Levene, Abaddon Books, £7.99, pbk, 277pp, ISBN 978-1-906735-38-8


Right, we are back in The Infernal Game with the sequel to Levene’s own Cold Warriors starting off with a mass murder that one of the major character’s sees through their own psychic abilities, events which will haunt her and which we will return to later on in the novel.

But before that happens the shadowy part of MI6 known as the Hermetic Division is sending Morgan Hewitt off on a mission to find out who killed Dr. Granger who just happened to be the world’s leading expert on the Elizabethan secrets of alchemist, Dr. Dee. Fortunately for his colleagues, Hewitt doesn’t seem to be the walking Jonah that he was in the first book, but he is also partnerless which does hamper the plot a little bit as there isn’t the same “buddy” movie banter and interaction that Cold Warriors benefited from. There are a few reasons for this state of affairs but in the interests of avoiding spoilers and the readers enjoyment I’ll let you find them out for yourself, suffice to say that someone is sorely missed, and someone else is diminished as a character because of that.

To be fair to Levene she isn’t trying to retread old ground here so we don’t have another, almost mundane, cold war thriller which is flipped into the dark side to read like a supernatural version of a John Le Carre novel or something by Len Deighton. Instead we have something that involves Christian beliefs coming together with North American Indian legends around dream worlds, the spirits of animals and the ability to spirit walk.

Essentially we’ve got two plots running side by side here, which is okay for keeping the book ticking along but doesn’t really engage the reader’s interest too much as Morgan tracks down Dr. Granger’s killer who turns out to be an agent of Mossad with superhuman abilities; while in the parallel story we are in America with medium and rich-girl Alex who has been newly recruited, albeit reluctantly, by the CIA to investigate a cult called the Croatans that they are interested in, using her drug-induced abilities to spirit walk.

Not surprisingly as the plot progresses, Hewitt finds out that Granger was looking for an artefact of Dee’s that could grant eternal life, and would you believe it the Croatans have only got their hands on some old relic called a shofar which is a sacred ram’s horn that has become the centrepiece of their rituals, rituals that have to be stopped. Cue for a meeting of characters and plotlines allowing the book to finally take off.

All in all, this is a well written, inventive yarn, bringing together a whole load of disparate ideas from beliefs and cultures, yet for all that, it doesn’t seem to be as good as book one, with a plot and character development that disappointingly seems to just tread water and keep its head above the surface. All I can hope and say is, here’s to book three for a full thrilling immersion that will have us gasping for breath. 3 out of 5.

Ian Hunter

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