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Absolute Proof by Peter James - Review

Tuesday, August 17, 2021


I heard about this book a few weeks ago, I can't remember where, but I was intrigued by the premise and by the fact that it was touted as being a bit like Dan Brown's books. Here's my "guilty" secret: I've read all Dan's novels and I don't hate them. They're fast, pacey, they keep you page turning, they often have theological parts which I really like, and they often have parts which genuinely terrify me which I do enjoy in a book. As a writer, I think you can pick up tips on how to write from someone like Dan because hardly a word is wasted, thread plots come together, and dialogue is expositional. I'm not saying his books are without criticism, at all, but I am saying that they do have worth if you're a writer, and they do have worth if you enjoy reading punchy, pacey books. I say "guilty" secret because I don't believe in feeling guilty about anything I read - my reading time is precious and I will read anything that keeps me reading!

So, all that said, I was interested in this book because it's about proof of the existence of God, and it was a fast paced thrilled. It's over 600 pages long which is way longer of a book than I usually read, but I found it fast to read - I'd look at the page number and realise sixty pages had passed since the last time I looked. I'm always interested in Theology in books; my undergraduate degree was in Theology and Religious Studies and it's something I find fascinating. I've read a few of Peter James' Roy Grace detective series, but never any of his standalone books. I requested this from the library and picked it up not long after it arrived.

The main character is Ross Hunter, who is a journalist living in Brighton with his wife Imogen. He was a journalist in Afghanistan and had a traumatic time there. He also had a strange occurrence at the exact time that his twin brother Ricky died in a freak accident. He doesn't really believe in God, though. Imogen is pregnant but there's a gap between her and Ross explained by her cheating on him while he was in Afghanistan. 

Ross is contacted by a professor called Harry Cook. Harry has written a manuscript which supposedly proves the existence of God. He has been given three coordinates by God which are absolute proof of the existence of God, and has been told to contact Ross as someone who will help him. The two meet, and Ross thinks Harry is a bit of a crank, but agrees to read the manuscript. Harry has already followed the first coordinates, which led him to Chalice Well on Glastonbury Tor. He assumes he was supposed to find the Holy Grail, given the mythology about Chalice Well. However, he didn't find anything, but tells Ross about this. 

Harry is then found dead in his house. Ross is still in posession of his manuscript, and decides to try to follow the trail Harry left for him. He needs a lot of help along the way, including from a great uncle who is a monk, and from a hacker he's been in touch with on previous stories. 

And of course there are the baddies who are on Ross' trail. There's a big pharmaceutical company who want what Ross is looking for so they can use it in their marketing and so on. Then there's a phony evangelical preacher who wants to stop Ross exposing the truth. Ross' life is at risk more and more throughout the book. Imogen desperately wants Ross to give up his quest, but he increasingly can't. 

I generally liked the book, although I felt a couple of threads or characters could have been eliminated. I liked the quest and I quite liked Ross. Imogen I felt made some stupid decisions, but I get that we're not supposed to like her. There are some really scary parts and some great chase parts. It's really good for such a long book. I'm giving it four out of five. 

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