by Sam Cabot (S.J. Rozan and Carlos Dews)
Plot Summary:The Historian meets The Da Vinci Code in this exhilarating supernatural thriller set in Rome. Rival groups are searching for a document that holds a secret that could shatter the Catholic Church.
While in Rome, American Jesuit priest Thomas Kelly is called upon to reclaim a centuries-old document stolen from the Vatican. An enigmatic letter leads him to the work of a 19th century poet, where Thomas discovers cryptic messages that might lead to the missing manuscript. His search is unexpectedly entwined with that of Italian art historian Livia Pietro, who tells him that destructive forces are threatening to expose the document’s contents. As they’re relentlessly chased through the heart of Rome by mysterious men who quickly demonstrate they would cross any line to obtain the document for themselves, it becomes clear to Livia and Thomas that the pages hold a deep, devastating, long-buried truth. Livia, though, has a secret of her own: she and her People are vampires. But all this pales in light of the Secret that Thomas and Livia discover together—a revelation more stunning than either could have imagined.
Review:This book had all the components of a potentially enthralling thriller. The history seemed well researched and the authors' use an interesting time period to highlight the historical unrest between the Italians and the vampires. Because the book seemed so well researched I think this book was a really informative look into Italy and Italian culture. The history of the Noantri (or the vampires) was very well set-up with a realistic approach of an almost scientific explanation for their existence. I really liked the culture the authors created for their vampires.
Where I was disappointed was in the pacing and ultimately the construction of the story. It begins strongly, but once Livia and Father Kelly start unravelling Damiano's clues, the action is very repetitive. A new riddle, a new church and someone always trying to get them. And to make the story even more tiresome and halt the flow at key moments there was a subplot introduced with the local police force - on the periphery of the mystery and generally putting forth erroneous theories as to the criminals vandalizing these churches. There really didn't seem to be a point to the lengthy inclusion of these police characters.
My feelings towards the main characters were mixed. Livia Petro, the intelligent and logical Noantri, was an excellent lead - wryly humorous at times and sympathetic. She needed to enlist the help of Father Kelly who is reluctant to involve himself with vampires and while Father Kelly is equally intelligent, his intolerance and immediate judgement of the Noantri was tiresome at best and to me seemed at odds with the way his character had been first presented. He seemed so understanding and open-minded, especially in how he came to terms with his religion. But in the end I do think the authors' message about tolerance was good - I just felt too disappointed in Father Kelly in the beginning to warm up to his character.
There were a couple subplots and a very creative religious scavenger hunt but the intrigue felt flat many times so that even the twists in the end seemed bland. Except for the one twist which was pretty shocking and probably controversial. But the idea of it was so interesting, I wish that was how I felt about the rest of this book.
I received this book from the publisher or author for a fair and honest review. I was not compensated for this review.