PERSONAL: Born in Lebanon; immigrated to England, 1984; married; children: two daughters. Education: American University of Beirut, M.A.; European Institute of Business Administration, Fontainebleau, France, M.B.A.
CAREER: Television scriptwriter, producer, and novelist; currently staff writer for television program Spooks (also known as MI-5), British Broadcasting Corp. (BBC). Has also worked as an architect in London, England, as a children's book illustrator for Oxford University Press's Middle East office, and as a bond salesman for Banque Paribas Capital Markets, London.
The Last Templar (novel), Dutton (New York, NY), 2006.
Also author of several screenplays, including the television series Dinotopia for ABC and an adaptation of The Maid of Buttermere, by Melvyn Bragg. The Last Templar has been published in over forty countries and translated into over thirty-five languages.
WORK IN PROGRESS: Two novels and a screenplay adaptation of The Last Templar, for NBC.
SIDELIGHTS: Raymond Khoury arrived at a writing career via a circuitous route. While originally studying architecture in Beirut, Lebanon, he earned money as a children's book illustrator. He then moved to London when war broke out in his homeland in 1984. He pursued his architecture career there for a time, but an economic slump in Europe convinced him to study for an M.B.A. in France. After three years of investment banking, he left the bank to pursue opportunities in real estate. It was while working on a hotel project in the Bahamas that he stumbled across screen writing. He had an inspiration for a movie idea that, with the help of a friend, he proposed to a Hollywood studio. Unhappy with the work that a hired screenwriter did on the project, Khoury decided to write it himself. The result was a script that ended up on the Fulbright Fellowship in Screenwriting shortlist. Encouraged, Khoury next wrote a screenplay based on his college years in Lebanon, followed by an adaptation of Melvyn Bragg's The Maid of Buttermere, which was then optioned for production by Robert DeNiro. Now earning a steady income as a screenwriter for the popular BBC series Spooks, which airs in the United States as MI-5, Khoury has gained attention again with his first novel, The Last Templar.
Although The Last Templar was originally written as a screenplay by Khoury in 1996, it has unfortunately been grouped with the many copycat novels that have been published after the best-seller success of Dan Brown's The Da Vinci Code. As with Brown's book, Khoury's story involves a cover-up by the Catholic Church and a mystery surrounding secrets known to the order of the Knights Templar. The plot involves the theft of a code-breaking device and a secret buried centuries ago by Jacques de Molay, the last master Templar, before his execution. Archeologist Tess Chaykin teams up with FBI agent Sean Reilly to solve the mystery. Their conflicted romance is a central element in the tale, and one that some critics lamented as "tedious," as a Publishers Weekly contributor noted. The passages of the book explaining history, alchemy, and other complex topics were also labeled "long-winded and sophomoric" by the same critic. David Lazarus, writing in the San Francisco Chronicle, similarly considered Khoury's novel "Da Vinci lite," though he added that the author's screenwriting background results in a "knack for short, quick scenes and cinematic action sequences that keep things moving at an absorbingly brisk pace." In Booklist, Ilene Cooper similarly noted the book's "cinematic" qualities, adding that she appreciated the "nice twist" in the conclusion. Likewise, Laura A.B. Cifelli, writing in the Library Journal, felt that "for those fatigued by the recent spate of Mary Magdalene/Holy Grail books, this novel will come as a welcome relief."
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Booklist, December 15, 2005, Ilene Cooper, review of The Last Templar, p. 5.
Kirkus Reviews, December 15, 2005, review of The Last Templar, p. 1293.
Knight Ridder Tribune Business News, March 26, 2006, Ann Hellmuth, "Knight Gallery: Two Religious Thrillers Paint a Picture of History, Myth and Mystery," review of The Last Templar, p. 1.
Library Journal, January 1, 2006, Laura A.B. Cifelli, review of The Last Templar, p. 98.
New York Times, February 17, 2006, Janet Maslin, "Knights at the Met, Gunfire at a Parade, As Fiction Takes New York," review of The Last Templar, p. E35.
Publishers Weekly, November 28, 2005, review of The Last Templar, p. 23.
San Francisco Chronicle, February 5, 2006, David Lazarus, "Private Eye Saves Mayor of N.Y. from Nightmare," review of The Last Templar, p. M4.
Last Templar Home Page, http://www.lasttemplar.com (April 21, 2006).