Book Review: The Lost Throne by Chris Kuzneski

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The Lost Throne by Chris Kuzneski

A mysterious phone call from a man on the other side of the world draws Jonathon Payne and David Jones into a mystery that spans centuries. The mystery caller was killed, and Payne and Jones end up in Russia to try to save his lovely assistant. The only way to do that is to find out what their mystery caller was looking for, and who hired him to find it.

Payne and Jones are familiar characters to anyone who has read Kuzneski’s other books. I, of course, have not. I’m in the middle of reading a string of books that are parts of series that I haven’t read yet, with varying degrees of success. The Lost Throne goes into the stack of books that work very well on their own – Payne and Jones don’t really run into anything that depends on our having read any previous book to understand, though as with most of the others I’ve read, parts of the book may have been more enjoyable had I been more familiar with the backstory.

I enjoyed Kuzneski’s writing, once I got started on the book. I’ve had this one for a while now, and it sat on the “To Be Read” shelf for longer than it should have. I was nervous about starting in the middle of yet another series, and the opening chapters of the book didn’t really grab my interest the way other books I’ve read so far (The Brutal Telling, for one) have. Once I got into the book, though, it was tough to put down. I finished the last 200 pages while substitute teaching at a local high school (the teacher neglected to leave lesson plans, so the entire day was one long study hall).

One thing I didn’t like was the way Kuzneski combined two plotlines in the book. We have Payne and Jones trying to save a girl’s life and find out what her boss was looking for on the one hand, and Nick Dial of Interpol trying to solve the murders of a number of Orthodox monks on the other hand. This is where knowing the backstory would have helped, since Dial, Jones, and Payne all know each other, but I thought the ultimate meeting of the three was a bit contrived, and was almost glossed over in the book so that we could get on with the gunfight and the denouement.

The characters are interesting, what little we learn of them in this book. I think that’s the other problem with reading part of a series as a one-off — characters develop differently wen they’re part of a series than if they’re in a one shot book. Character development is slower – kind of like in real life. I really don’t feel as if I got to know any characters in this book, with the exception of Allison, who is new to the series in this book — and I still want to know more about her, so I hope she shows up in future books.

I enjoyed The Lost Throne. I would probably enjoy reading Kuzneski’s other books (a trip to the library is definitely in my future). If you’re reading for the thrills and gunfights, then you’ll like this book. If, however, you’re interested in getting to know the characters, you’ll want to get the other books in the series first, and then read this one. You’ll enjoy it more that way.

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