The Key of Solomon:
A Novel of the Last Days
by Howard F. Clarke
(CreateSpace / 1-440-48631-X / 978-1-440-48631-9 / March 2010 / 406 pages / $16.53 / B&N $11.89)
Reviewed by Dr. Al Past for PODBRAM
Jack Salter is a problem-ridden New York cop with unconventional detective skills who is sent to Albuquerque, New Mexico to bring down a wealthy CEO he believes to be exceptionally dangerous. The CEO, named Kale, uses his corporation as a cover for his ultimate goal: to acquire the ancient occult key of King Solomon, which will enable him to turn the spirit world to his purposes, the better to dominate the globe, one supposes. Murder and human sacrifice are but tools to this end. Mix in Kane's bald, ex-military security advisor and enforcer, a brave Navajo policeman, a Baptist minister unafraid to step into the battle, several rare book dealers, miscellaneous associated local policemen, a New York mobster on the hook to Salter, a couple of vicious demons from the spirit world, a troop of gangster motorcyclists, and for good measure, a centuries-old conspiracy by trusted authority figures, and you have quite a pot-boiler of a story. Will Salter put the kibosh on the bad guy? Will he even survive? Or will it be the end of the world?
Fans of this genre of tales will recognize the pattern. It need only be added that the prose is readable, with few typos and not too many miscues (such as the word "touristo”, which is not a Spanish word— the word is "turista").
Readers who anticipate a plot-driven story will not be disappointed. For my part, I found the characterizations thin and the action predictable, with everything arranged to best achieve the desired end. The plot element that came through most vividly was the city of Albuquerque, a lovely city indeed.
Nonetheless, stories where the fate of the world hangs in the balance and only One Man (or Woman) can save it are evidently quite popular. If such is your cup of tea, then you might enjoy The Key of Solomon.