There are not too many reviews of Altar of Bones out there yet. I'm kind of surprised by this actually. Philip Carter is supposedly a pseudonym for "an internationally renowned author" according to Simon and Schuster's website. It seems to me that it would be promoted more already with less than a month to its release. As Book Faerie at Journey of a Bookseller noted, it does have a Dan Brown feeling to it. While reading I thought to myself that it kind of reminded me of The DaVinci Code minus all the random art historical/historical fact rambling.
Altar of Bones jumps around in the beginning quite a bit, but once you get to the nitty gritty of the story, it's a spy/treasure hunt/suspense thriller based on a Russian folk story. Somewhere deep in the frozen tundra of Siberia there is a frozen lake with a frozen waterfall hiding a cave that legend claims holds the Altar of Bones and a fountain of youth. One particular family, who are descendants of the "magic people" of the area, have passed the secret to the Altar of Bones from mother to daughter for centuries. One woman is known as the Keeper and she must protect the Altar of Bones at all costs. However, these women are tempted by love and the men in their lives tend to prove untrustworthy and only interested in finding the Altar of Bones.
Jump to the present day of the story and Zoe Dmitroff finds herself the most recent Keeper when she receives a letter from her grandmother. She starts on a world-wide journey to unlock family secrets. Along the way, she teams up with an ex-DEA agent named Ry O'Malley. Together the two of them travel to Paris, Budapest, and finally Siberia. All while being hunted by a crazy red-headed femme fatale, an old KGB official, and more. This book is chock full of action with car chases and gun fights with a little romance thrown in by the end. It also tries to offer a new conspiracy theory for a presidential assassination with ties to Hollywood.
All very interesting to ponder. The book was a tiny bit long for me and dragged a bit about 2/3rd in and picked up toward the end again, but overall was a fun read. I kept turning the pages to find out where the adventure took Ry and Zoe next, whether he would eventually double-cross her and what they would do once they finally found the Altar of Bones.
Source disclosure: This was an e-book galley from Simon and Schuster and will be available for purchase March 8, 2011.