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The Gaudi Key    by Esteban Martin & Andreu Carranza order for
Gaudi Key
by Esteban Martin
Order:  USA  Can
William Morrow, 2008 (2008)

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* *   Reviewed by Hilary Williamson

Since Dan Brown wowed readers around the world with The Da Vinci Code, there have plenty of thrillers purporting to be in the same style - but few have succeeded as well as The Gaudi Key. The book opens on the 1926 murder of Spanish architect Antonio Gaudí (considered by many to be the father of the Gothic Modernist movement, and the creator of the architectural masterpiece, La Sagrada Família) by the Corbel, a sinister organization who worship the Dark One and whose anonymous leader is always named Asmodeus. The Corbel oppose the Seven Knights of Moriah, who have guarded 'the greatest secret in Christianity' down through the ages.

Gaudí was not alone in the days before his death in Barcelona, and left his secret to the boy he mentored, Juan Givell. With flashbacks to show the Knights of Moriah through history, the story takes up in 2006 with a 92-year-old Givell, the last grand master of the Moriah. Though he is losing his memory to the fogs of old age, Givell intends to keep his promise to his old master. He reveals his life story to his granddaughter María, an exceptional art historian. He gives her a key, tells her riddles, and assigns her the duty 'to complete the mission.' She wonders if he is insane, but soon notices that men in black are following her and seeks help from her brilliant mathematician boyfriend Miguel.

Though Miguel's skepticism lasts longer than María's, it dissolves after exposure to horrific acts of violence by the Corbel, and he partners María (a modern Hansel and Gretel following pebbles through the city) in her attempts to solve the puzzle her beloved grandfather left with her before he too was murdered. Thickening the plot are multimillionaire Barcelona gangster Jaume Bru with ties to the Russian mafia; his young and beautiful Japanese lover Taimatsu, an art historian like her friend Maria; a corrupt and high ranking police officer; Miguel's friend Alvaro, an expert on sects and esotericism who owns a second-hand bookstore; and the few remaining Knights of Moriah.

In The Gaudi Key, Esteban Martin and Andreu Carranza tell of a struggle for the soul of the world dependent on a young woman's following her destiny, a young man's finding his faith, and their joint ability to solve a series of puzzles in a race against time, beleaguered by ruthless enemies. Though the story is at times longwinded, it's one you are impelled to stick with to its remarkable ending.

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