Monday, September 16, 2013

Pantheon by Sam Bourne

Hardback:  406 pages 
Genre: Mystery, Thriller 
Publisher: Harper Collins 2012 2012
Source: Tywyn Public Library 
First Sentence: 'It hurt him this journey, it pained him, yet day after day he came back for more punishment.'
Favourite Quote: 'The signs had been there from the beginning. He was not paranoid, he was not deluded: Something dark and dangerous was going on here and he his wife and and son were at the centre of it..'
Review Quote: ‘An intelligent thriller with a vividly drawn wartime atmosphere’ Independent
My Opinion: Whilst it was a reasonable enough read it was not gripping or exciting enough to have me rushing to read more of this author's work.

I do read thrillers and mysteries although not as often as some other genres and Sam Bourne is not a thriller writer that I have read before. This was chosen recently for a book club reading group that I am a member of, otherwise I doubt it was a title I would have selected myself. Whilst it was a reasonable read it was not gripping or exciting enough to have me rushing to read more of this author's work.

Set in the early stages of WWII with plenty of historical detail and well portrayed characters that feel believable, it was the plot itself that I found weak at times. Especially once the action moved across the Atlantic, however it did improve somewhat although it raced rather towards its unsurprising ending. The protagonist James is a veteran of the Spanish Civil War and it is due to his combat trauma that he is not away fighting in 1940 but still immersed in academia at Oxford. When his wife and young son disappear it is only natural that he should follow the clues that his wife Florence seems to have purposely left behind for him and set off to find them. What he discovers during the course of his search is disturbing and will give you plenty to think about as some very unpalatable ideas are uncovered with reference to eugenics. James is of course desperate to find Florence and young Harry but suddenly there is so much more at stake , the future of the United Kingdom.

For fans of the genre I am suggesting personally that Pantheon is nothing more than an average read, certainly not one to get excited about. If you do decide to read the novel do make sure that you read the Author's Note afterwards. As it explains how that although James, Florence and Harry are fictional characters that their story is rooted in the most extraordinary facts.

Author Profile

Sam Bourne is the pseudonym of Jonathan Freedland, born on February 25th 1967. Jonathan lives in London with his wife, Sarah and their two children. He was educated at University College School, a boys' independent school in Hampstead, London, and at Wadham College, Oxford, he started his 'Fleet Street' career at the short-lived Sunday Correspondent. In 1990 he joined the BBC, working as a news reporter across radio and television, appearing most often on The World at One and Today on Radio 4. In the summer of 1992, he was awarded the Laurence Stern fellowship on the Washington Post, serving as a staff writer on the national news section. He became The Guardian’s Washington Correspondent in 1993, staying in that post until 1997 when he returned to London as an editorial writer and columnist.
Between 2002 and 2004 he was an occasional columnist for the Daily Mirror and from 2005 to 2007 he wrote a weekly column for the London Evening Standard. He has also been published in The Washington Post, Newsweek and The New Republic magazines and appears regularly on radio and television. In 2008, he broadcast a two-part series for BBC Radio 4  British Jews and the Dream of Zion, as well as two TV documentaries for BBC Four: How to be a Good President and President Hollywood.
As a novelist he has published four thrillers.  His first novel, 'The Righteous Men,' was a Richard and Judy Summer Read and a Number 1 bestseller. His next two novels, 'The Last Testament' and 'The Final Reckoning' were both top ten best sellers


  • The Righteous Men (2006) 
  • The Last Testament (2007) 
  • The Final Reckoning (2008) 
  • The Chosen One (2010) 
  • Pantheon (2012) 

The biographical information and photo used in this post are with thanks to the following websites, where you can also find more information about the author and his writing. 

Amazon Author Profile    Wikipedia - Sam Bourne   Wikipedia - Jonathan Freedland  Author's Official Website    YouTube - Pantheon - Sam Bourne


  1. Thanks for reviewing, not an author I am familiar with either. How are things with you? Hope your keeping well and busy.


  2. Lovely to hear from you Lainy, I am up and down which is to be expected, keeping busy helps and I am well, thanks.

  3. You too, I had to scroll down my blog to find your wee button as I didn't realise how many I followed so couldn't find you that way and had been thinking aboout you for a while and wanted to check in. I think that is all you can do love and take each day as it comes, remembering it is fine to laugh, cry and any other emotion that comes along *hugs*


  4. Hope you are doing ok Lindy Lou. Thrillers aren't generally my thing. Generally the characters are a bit one dimensional for me. Cheers


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