The Salisbury Key
Author: Harper Fox
Buy Link: Amazon.com (Second Edition)
Genre: Contemporary M/M
Length: Novel (219 PDF pages)
Rating: 5+ stars out of 5 DIK
A guest review by Tj
Summary Review: Harper Fox has once again given us a truly fine work of literature. Releases Feb 22
The Blurb: Can love repair a shattered life in time to save the world?
Daniel Logan is on a lonely quest to find out what drove his lover, a wealthy, respected archaeologist, to take his own life. The answer—the elusive “key” for which Jason was desperately searching—lies somewhere on a dangerous and deadly section of Salisbury Plain. The only way to gain access, though, is to allow an army explosives expert to help him navigate the bomb-riddled military zone. A man he met once more than three years ago, who is even more serious and enigmatic than before.
Lieutenant Rayne has better things to do than risk his life protecting a scientist on an apparent suicide mission. Like get back to Iraq and prove he will never again miss another roadside bomb. Yet as he helps Dan uncover the truth, an attraction neither man is in the mood for springs up against their will. And stirs up the nervous attention of powerfully placed people—military and academic alike. First in conflict, then in passion, Rayne and Dan are drawn together in a relationship as rocky and complicated as the ancient land they search. Where every step leads them closer to a terrible legacy written in death…
The Review: It’s very rare to discover a writer who is as talented as Harper Fox. Her work is consistently very well written, her characters complex and engaging and the plots of her stories draw us forward without awareness of the spell being cast. These facts alone would make for a very accomplished author, but put in the perspective of Ms. Fox’s fairly recent arrival on the scene, makes it all quite honestly… amazing. Here once again in The Salisbury Key, Ms. Fox has woven some wonderful magic.
Archeologist Daniel Logan is struggling with the fact of his lover’s recent suicide, so shocking to him that he was initially certain that it must have been murder. Daniel had been together with Jason Ross, a well respected professor of Archeology, for 3 years when Jason suddenly ended his life. Now, Daniel was scrambling for some meaning in Jason’s death, and was left with only one outlet for his grief. Jason had been obsessed with getting access to Britain’s Salisbury Plain, containing a veritable cornucopia of archeological finds; from Neolithic, Bronze Age and Roman cultures. But these treasures fell under the military’s watchful eye as they all lie in an extremely hazardous area that is riddled with unexploded mines.
Ironically, shortly after Jason’s passing, an opportunity presents itself for Logan to continue where Jason left off and gain access to Salisbury, with one concession on Logan’s part – that he must work with Lieutenant Rayne, an Explosive Ordnance Disposal (EOD) expert. Still reeling from his grief and barely functioning, Logan sets off with Rayne to try and find some answers. Rayne, who Logan had met three years prior, by sight only, was not at all happy to be babysitting some academic on a wild goose chase. And Logan was truly unfit company for anyone.
The characters of Logan and Rayne are both beautifully drawn, with interesting tidbits of their lives coming to the surface when you least expect it. At first, they grate on each other’s nerves, and are barely civil, seemingly unable to say anything that won’t completely annoy the other. But very gradually things start to warm up and Logan finds himself feeling good being with Rayne, enjoying the warmth of his body and actually laughing at times. But Logan is also conflicted and angry and feeling very guilty that he could be attracted to someone new, so soon after Jason’s death. As you can imagine, this causes a fair amount of suffering on Logan’s part, but it all feels right, considering the death of his partner was less than a week prior.
The story was in parts quite suspenseful, as Logan and Rayne dig deeper into the mystery of the Salisbury Key and find that there’s so much more to be uncovered than simple archeological finds. The plot was so well crafted that I couldn’t anticipate the outcome. The details kept me intrigued, and were very well integrated with the developing relationship between Logan and Rayne, making for an interesting, and well paced journey.
And of course any review of a Harper Fox novel would be remiss if it did not mention her wonderful use of the English language. The prose was beautifully descriptive, almost poetic at times and evoked such wonderful images, bringing the Salisbury Plain to life. Here’s a sample to whet your appetites:
“We both turned, and there were the ancient trilithons of Stonehenge, dreaming their circle of unbroken dreams in the sun.”
“Just beyond the settlement’s outskirts the road took a gentle curve…The curve was like an embracing arm, stilling the breeze, capturing sunlight to a golden quintessence, filled with lark song and the scent of warm turf. A cluster of gorse bushes flourished here, their flowers bright as the little Adonis butterflies that flickered among them.”
Can’t you just picture Stonehenge, feel the sun on your back and the breeze in your hair? Just beautiful.
It is literature at it’s finest.