The Brotherhood of the Holy Shroud

( 28 )


The Brotherhood of the Holy Shroud is the explosive international bestseller that mixes fact and fiction to tell the riveting story of one of the world’s most controversial relics—the Holy Shroud of Turin—and the desperate race to save it from those who will stop at nothing to possess its legendary power....

A fire at the Turin cathedral and the discovery of a mutilated corpse are the latest in a disturbing series of events surrounding the mysterious cloth millions believe to be...

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The Brotherhood of the Holy Shroud is the explosive international bestseller that mixes fact and fiction to tell the riveting story of one of the world’s most controversial relics—the Holy Shroud of Turin—and the desperate race to save it from those who will stop at nothing to possess its legendary power....

A fire at the Turin cathedral and the discovery of a mutilated corpse are the latest in a disturbing series of events surrounding the mysterious cloth millions believe to be the authentic burial shroud of Jesus Christ. Those who dare to investigate will be caught in the cross fire of an ancient conflict forged by mortal sacrifice, assassination, and secret societies tied to the shadowy Knights Templar.

Spanning centuries and continents, from the storm-rent skies over Calvary, through the intrigue and treachery of Byzantium and the Crusades, to the modern-day citadels of Istanbul, New York, London, Paris, and Rome, The Brotherhood of the Holy Shroud races to a chilling climax in the labyrinths beneath Turin, where astounding truths will be exposed: about the history of a faith, the passions of man, and proof of the most powerful miracle of all….

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
“For readers who can’t get enough of the religious suspense genre.”—Publishers Weekly
Publishers Weekly

The Da Vinci Code, in all its many incarnations, has a lot to answer for. This latest entry in the religious suspense sweepstakes is by a bestselling Spanish novelist, who stirs up the pot by mixing fact and fiction to tell what happened to the legendary Shroud of Turin, supposedly Jesus' burial garment. Several centuries of sturm und drang—including perhaps one severed tongue too many—whiz by, lightened only by the odd liturgical chant, as reader Langton uses his best Masterpiece TheaterBritish accent to hit the high points. Of course there's a modern detective who develops some new leads. But unless you positively can't live without your daily dose of anti-Vatican paranoia, this is probably one to skip. Simultaneous release with the Bantam hardcover (Reviews, Oct. 30). (Jan.)

Copyright 2007 Reed Business Information
Publishers Weekly
For readers who can't get enough of the religious suspense genre, here's a heaping helping of more of the same. When the unidentified body of a tongueless man turns up in the ashes of a suspicious fire in the Turin cathedral, home of the Holy Shroud of Turin, Marco Valoni, director of the Italian Art Crimes Department, investigates. This gruesome find reflects a pattern of tongueless men and mysterious fires that goes back many years and centers on the shroud. A history of Jesus' burial cloth through the ages alternates with a modern mystery involving several shadowy, anonymous groups of powerful, wealthy men, who either want to steal the sacred cloth or protect it. Marco and his band of art crimes cops and researchers must piece together who wants what and why. This was a bestseller in Europe, and while Navarro never gets up to Da Vinci Code speed, she does neatly solve the pesky problem of just why carbon dating puts the age of the shroud at the 13th or 14th century. (Jan.) Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
Library Journal
Can you read one more Brotherhood of Something or Other book? This one was powerful enough to vanquish Dan Brown's The Da Vinci Code in Navarro's native Spain. But will it be as popular here? There's a fire in the Turin Cathedral, home of the Holy Shroud, and investigators with the Art Crimes Department start to suspect that the history of accidents at the cathedral has been anything but. Things turn dangerous for the investigators when they get too close to two secret societies, one of them the Templars and both sworn to protect the Shroud. First novelist Navarro weaves a tale of mystery and intrigue that begins in Edessa in the ancient Middle East, circa 30 C.E., and ends in modern Turin. With rich detail, she traces the journey the Shroud has made from its origin as a simple burial cloth to the venerated relic it is today. She even explains why testing dates it from the Middle Ages. Brotherhood is to the Holy Shroud what Da Vinci Code is to the Holy Grail. Recommended for most popular fiction collections. [See Prepub Alert, LJ 9/1/06.]-Laura A.B. Cifelli, Ft. Myers-Lee Cty. P.L., FL Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
An exuberant, deeply involved thriller woven around the history of the Shroud of Turin. After yet another fire in Turin Cathedral, Marco Valoni, chief of the Italian Art Crimes Department, decides there is something suspicious going on in the great church that houses the world-renowned Shroud. There have been too many suspicious blazes over the past half-century, and in each case the arsonists responsible have been discovered with their tongues cut out. The most recent suspect is still in jail, refusing to cooperate. Valoni decides to track down the heads of scientific groups that have visited the shroud over the last decades. He also enlists the talented men and women in his agency to come up with some leads. Art expert Sofia Galloni urges her boss to release the tongueless suspect in hopes that he will lead them to his confederates. Alternating with Valoni's crime investigation, which widens to include the very rich heads of world companies, is a Biblical history of the shroud itself. In these portions, King Abgar of Edessa sends his childhood friend Josar as an emissary to Jerusalem. Josar's mission is to convince the legendary Jesus of Nazarus to come to Edessa, heal the king of leprosy and share his kingdom. Instead, Josar becomes a disciple and later returns to Edessa with Jesus' shroud. Before Agbar's non-Christian heir can torture him to reveal the shroud's hidden location, Josar removes his own tongue. This is just the beginning of a wildly complicated history, exhaustively delineated by the author, that ultimately lands the shroud with the Templars, whose modern representatives want it back. Spanish journalist Navarro distinguishes her fiction debut from routine suspense fodderby ending this convoluted tale with realistic ambiguity rather than wrapping up all the loose ends. Terrifically lively characterizations and the author's passion for her subject make this one stand out.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780440243021
  • Publisher: Random House Publishing Group
  • Publication date: 9/25/2007
  • Format: Mass Market Paperback
  • Edition description: Reprint
  • Pages: 576
  • Sales rank: 819,342
  • Product dimensions: 4.15 (w) x 6.85 (h) x 1.20 (d)

Meet the Author

Julia Navarro is a well known Madrid-based journalist who is currently a political analyst for Agencia OTR/Europa Press and a correspondent for other prominent Spanish radio and television networks and print media, including a weekly column for Tiempo magazine. Bantam Dell will publish the English translation of her second novel, The Bible of Clay, in Spring 2008.

Andrew Hurley is best known for his translations of Jorge Luis Borges's Collected Fictions (1998), as well as Reinaldo Arenas's "Pentagony" novels (1986-2000). He lives and works in San Juan, Puerto Rico.

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Read an Excerpt

Chapter One

C. 30 A.D.

Abgar, king of Edessa,
to Jesus the good Savior, who appears at Jerusalem,
I have been informed concerning you and the cures you perform without the use of medicines and herbs.
For it is reported that you cause the blind to see and the lame to walk, that you cleanse lepers, cast out unclean spirits and devils, and restore to health those who have been long diseased, and, further, that you raise up the dead.
All of which, when I heard, persuaded me of one of these two: either that you are God Himself descended from heaven who does these things, or you are the Son of God.
On this account, therefore, I write to you earnestly, to beg that you take the trouble of a journey hither and cure a disease which I am under.
For I hear the Jews ridicule you and intend you mischief.
My city is indeed small, but neat, and large enough for us both.

The king laid down his pen and turned his eyes toward a young man of his own age, waiting motionless and respectful at the far end of the room.

"You are certain, Josar?" The king's gaze was direct and piercing.

"My lord, believe me. . . ." The young man could barely hold himself back as he spoke. He approached the king and stopped near the table at which Abgar had been writing.

"I believe you, Josar, I believe you. You are the most faithful friend I have, and so you have been since we were boys. You have never failed me, Josar, but the wonders that are told of this Jew are so passing strange that I fear your desire to aid me may have confounded your senses."

"My lord, you must believe me, for only those who believe in the Jew are saved. I have seen a blind man, when Jesus brushed his fingers over the man's dead eyes, recover his sight. I have seen a lame man, whose legs would not move, touch the hem of Jesus' tunic and have seen Jesus gaze sweetly upon him and bid him walk, and to the astonishment of all, the man stood and his legs bore him as your legs, sire, bear you. I have seen a poor woman suffering from leprosy watch the Nazarene as she hid in the shadows of the street, for all men fled her, and Jesus approached her and said to her, 'You are cured,' and the woman, incredulous, cried, 'I am healed, I am healed!' For indeed her face became that of a human once more, and her hands, which before she hid from sight, were whole.

"And I have seen with my own eyes the greatest of all miracles, for when I was following Jesus and his disciples and we came upon a family mourning the death of a relative, Jesus entered the house and commanded the dead man to rise. God must be in the voice of the Nazarene, for I swear to you, my king, that the man opened his eyes, and stood, and wondered at being alive. . . ."

"You are right, Josar, I must believe if I am to be healed. I want to believe in this Jesus of Nazareth, who is truly the Son of God if he can raise the dead. But will he want to heal a king who has been prey to concupiscence?"

"Abgar, Jesus cures not only men's bodies but also their souls. He preaches that with repentance and the desire to lead a life free thenceforth of sin, a man may merit the forgiveness of God. Sinners find solace in the Nazarene, my sire. . . ."

"I do sincerely hope so, Josar, although I cannot forgive myself for my lust for Ania. The woman has brought this plight upon me; she has sickened me in body and in soul."

"How were you to know, sire, that she was diseased, that the gift sent you by King Tyrus was a stratagem of state? How were you to suspect that she bore the seed of the illness and would contaminate you? Ania was the most beautiful woman we had ever seen. Any man would have lost his reason and given his all to have her."

"But I am king, Josar, and I should not have lost my reason, however beautiful the dancing girl may have been. . . . Now she weeps over her lost beauty, for the marks of the disease are upon her face, and the whiteness is eating it away. And I, Josar, have a sweat upon me that never leaves me, and my sight grows cloudy, and I fear above all things that the illness will consume my skin and leave me–"

Abgar fell silent at the sound of soft footsteps. A smiling woman, lithe, with black hair and olive skin, entered.

Josar admired her. Yes, he admired the perfection of her features and the happy smile she always wore; beyond that he admired her loyalty to the king and the fact that her lips would never have uttered the slightest reproach against the man stolen from her by Ania, the dancing girl from the Caucasus, the woman who had contaminated her husband the king with the terrible disease.

Abgar would not allow himself to be touched by anyone, since he feared he might pollute all those with whom he came in contact. He appeared less and less frequently in public. But he had not been able to resist the iron will of the queen, who insisted upon caring for him personally and, not just that, who also encouraged him in his soul to believe the story brought by Josar of the wonders performed by the Nazarene.

The king looked at her with sadness in his eyes.

"It is you, my dear. . . . I was talking with Josar about the Nazarene. He will take a letter to him inviting him to come. I have offered to share my kingdom with him."

"An escort should accompany Josar, to ensure that nothing happens on the journey and to ensure also that he returns safely with the Nazarene."

"I will take three or four men; that will be enough," Josar said. "The Romans have no trust in their subjects and would not look with favor on a group of soldiers entering the town. Nor would Jesus. I hope, my lady, to complete my mission and convince Jesus to return with me. I will take swift horses and will send you and my lord the news when I reach Jerusalem."

"I shall complete the letter, Josar."

"And I shall leave at dawn, my lord."

Chapter Two

The fire began to lick at the pews as smoke filled the nave with darkness. Four figures dressed in black hurried toward a lateral chapel. A fifth man, humbly dressed, hovering in a doorway near the high altar, wrung his hands. The high wail of sirens reached a crescendo outside–fire trucks responding to the alarm. In a matter of seconds firefighters would burst into the cathedral, and that meant another failure.

The man rushed down from the altar, motioning his brothers to come to him. One of them kept running toward the chapel, while the others shrank back from the fire that was beginning to surround them. Time had run out. The fire had come out of nowhere and progressed faster than they'd calculated. The man trying so desperately to fulfill their mission was enveloped in flames. He writhed as the fire consumed his clothes, his skin, but somehow he found the strength to pull off the hood that concealed his face. The others tried to reach him, to beat back the flames, but the fire was everywhere, and the cathedral doors began to buckle as the firefighters battered against them. Their brother burned without a scream, without a sound.

They retreated then and raced behind their guide to a side door, slipping outside at the same instant the water from the fire hoses poured into the cathedral. They never saw the man hiding among the shadows of one of the pulpits, a silencer–equipped pistol at his side.

Once they were gone, he came down from the pulpit, touched a spring hidden in the wall, and disappeared.

Marco Valoni took a drag off his cigarette, and the smoke mixed in his lungs with the smoke from the fire. He'd come outside for fresh air while the firefighters finished putting out the embers that were still glowing in and around the right side of the high altar.

The piazza was closed off with police blockades, and the carabinieri were holding back the curious and the concerned, all craning their necks to try to see what had happened in the cathedral. At that hour of the evening, Turin was a beehive of people desperate to learn whether the Holy Shroud had been damaged.

Marco had asked the reporters covering the fire to try to keep the crowds calm: The shroud had been unscathed. What he hadn't told them was that someone had died in the flames. He still didn't know who.

Another fire. Fire seemed to plague the old cathedral. But Marco didn't believe in coincidences, and the Turin Cathedral was a place where too many accidents happened: robbery attempts and, within recent memory, three fires. In the first one, which occurred after the Second World War, investigators had found the bodies of two men incinerated by the flames. The autopsy determined that they were both about twenty–five and that, despite the fire, they had been killed by gunshot. And last, a truly gruesome finding: Their tongues had been surgically cut out. But why? And who had shot them? No one had ever been able to find out. The case was still open, but it had gone cold.

Neither the faithful nor the general public knew that the shroud had spent long periods of time outside the cathedral over the last hundred years. Maybe that was why it had been spared the consequences of so many accidents.

A vault in the Banco Nazionale had been the shroud's place of safekeeping. The relic was taken out of it only to be displayed on special occasions, and then only under the strictest security. But despite all the security, the shroud had been exposed to danger–real danger–more than once. It had been moved back to the cathedral only days ago, in preparation for the unveiling of extensive refurbishments.

Marco still remembered the fire of April 12, 1997. How could he forget, since it was the same night–or early morning–he'd been celebrating his retirement with his colleagues in the Art Crimes Department.

He was fifty then, and he'd just been through open–heart surgery. Two heart attacks and a life–or–death operation had finally persuaded him to listen when Giorgio Marchesi, his brother–in–law and cardiologist, advised him to devote himself to the dolce far niente, or, at the least, put in for a nice quiet bureaucratic position, one of those jobs where he could spend his time reading the newspaper and taking midmorning breaks for cappuccino in some nearby cafe.

Paola had insisted that he retire; she sugared the pill by reminding him that he had gone as high in the Art Crimes Department as he could go–he was the director–and that he could honorably end a brilliant career and devote himself to enjoying life. But he had resisted. He'd rather go into some office–any office–every day than to turn into fifty–year–old retired jetsam washed up on some beach somewhere. Even so, he'd resigned his position as director of the Art Crimes Department, and the night before the fire, despite Paola's and Giorgio's protests, he'd gone out to dinner with his friends. By daybreak they were still drinking. These were the same people he'd been working with for fourteen, fifteen hours a day for the last twenty years, tracking down the mafias that trafficked in artworks, unmasking forgeries, and protecting, so far as was humanly possible, Italy's artistic heritage.

The Art Crimes Department was a special agency under both the Ministry of the Interior and the Ministry of Culture. It was a unique collection of police officers mixed with a good number of archaeologists, historians, experts in medieval art, modern art, religious art. . . . He had given it the best years of his life.

It had not been easy to climb the ladder of success. His father had worked in a gas station; his mother was a homemaker. They had just scraped by, and he'd managed to attend the university thanks only to scholarships. But his mother had pleaded with him to find a good, secure job, one with the state, and he had given in to her wishes. A friend of his father's, a policeman who regularly stopped to fill up at the gas station, helped him with the entrance tests for the carabinieri. Marco took them and passed them, but he wasn't cut out to be a cop, so he continued his studies at night, after work, and eventually managed to earn a degree in history. The first thing he did when he got his degree was request a transfer to the Art Crimes Department. He combined his two specialties, history and police work, and little by little, working hard and taking advantage of breaks when they came his way, he rose through the ranks to the top. How he'd enjoyed traveling through Italy, experiencing its treasures firsthand and getting to know other countries, too, as his career progressed!

He had met Paola at the University of Rome. She was studying medieval art; it was love at first sight, and within months they were married. They'd been together for twenty–five years; they had two children and were truly happy together.

Paola taught at the university, and she had never expressed any resentment at how little time he spent at home. Only once had they had a really big fight. It was when he returned from Turin that spring of 1997, after the cathedral fire, and told her he was not retiring after all, but not to worry because he would redefine his job as director. He would embrace bureaucracy. He wasn't going to be traveling anymore or out in the field doing investigations–he was just going to be a bureaucrat. Giorgio, his doctor, told him he was crazy. But the men and women he worked with were delighted.

It was the fire in the cathedral that had changed his mind about staying. He was convinced that it hadn't been accidental, no matter how often he told the press it was.

And now here he was, investigating another fire in the Turin Cathedral. Less than two years ago he'd been called in to investigate another robbery attempt, one of many over the years. The thief had been caught almost by accident. Although it was true he hadn't had any cathedral property on him, it was surely just because he hadn't had time to pull off the job. Artworks and other objects near the shroud's casket were in disarray. A priest passing by just then saw a man running, apparently scared off by the sound of the alarm, which was louder than the cathedral's bells. The priest ran after him, yelling, "Fermati, ladro! Fermati!"–"Stop, thief! Stop!"–and two young men passing by had tackled him and held him until the police arrived. The thief had no tongue; it had been surgically removed. Nor did he have any fingerprints; the tips of his fingers were scarred over from burns. The thief, so far as the investigation was concerned, was a man without a country, without a name, and he was now rotting in the Turin jail. He'd remained obdurate and unresponsive through interrogation after interrogation. They'd never managed to get anything out of him.

No, Marco didn't believe in coincidences. It was no coincidence that all the "thieves" in the Turin Cathedral had no tongues and had had their fingerprints burned off. Such a pattern would be almost laughable were it not so grotesque.

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4
( 28 )
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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 28 Customer Reviews
  • Posted April 6, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    Would recommend to anyone who loves religious thrillers

    I absolutely LOVE this book. I am now reading the Bible of Clay also by Julia Navarro. Both of these books are page turners and are very hard to put down!! She needs to write more books and FAST!!!

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 24, 2008

    who, now?

    the plot isn't bad at all, but this book has way, way, way too many characters that are doing nothing in three distinct time periods. i'm sure some will find this book descriptive, lush and engrossing. i found it muddled.

    2 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted December 9, 2008

    more from this reviewer

    terrific Italian police procedural

    The latest blaze in a series of suspicious fires at the Turin Cathedral over several decades concerns the chief of the Italian Art Crimes Department, Marco Valoni because he knows a great prize resides inside the church, the Shroud. The arsonists have always been found with their tongues removed including the latest tongue-less suspect. Valoni begins to see a conspiracy of sorts, but not by whom. Valoni decides enough is enough as he fears there is more than just isolated arson behind the fires. He assigns his top talent to seek clues and begins to investigate scientists who have studied the Shroud over the years. His top art expert Sofia Galloni persuades Valoni to free the current jailed tongue-less suspect so they can trail him expecting he will return to his co-conspirators. Valoni learns that back in ancient times, King Abgar of Edessa sends his childhood friend Josar to Jerusalem to persuade Jesus of Nazarus to come to his kingdom to heal him of leprosy. Josar remains in Jerusalem as a disciple of Jesus. Years later he returns to Edessa with the Shroud, but his friend¿s heir demands he hand over the Shroud to him. Instead Josar cuts out his tongue so he cannot reveal where he hid the Shroud. Centuries later the Templars possessed the Shroud during the Middle Ages, but Valoni wonders whether some modern day descendents want it back. --- This is a terrific Italian police procedural that uses the Shroud of Turin as the motive for arson and attempted thefts. The story line is action-packed with fabulous subplots especially the biblical era tale. The cast is solid whether they are in ancient times or the present. Not just for the Brown crowd, THE BROTHERHOOD OF THE HOLY SHROUD is a delightful rendition using a modern day criminal investigation as the means to provide a deep thriller. --- Harriet Klausner

    2 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted April 6, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    Interesting take on the Templars.

    The story drags a bit initially but not that I am a little over half way through, the pieces come together. Without giving away the story, it begins at the time of Christ and traces the ownership and care of the Shroud of Turin from Jesus' death to modern times. The story includes what seem to be disconnnected events that eventually begin to make sense. Bear with the early part for the tension that builds.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted April 6, 2009

    Another DaVinci Code type novel

    I enjoyed this book but then I like most historical intrigue/archaeological thriller type novels. The book jumps around somewhat due to the cast of characters and trying to cover both the modern events and the historical ones but overall is quite enjoyable. I will be getting the author's second book - The Bible of Clay - because I did enjoy this one and would like to see more of the characters. I would recommend to anyone who enjoys this genre.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 30, 2012


    The 12 days of christmas

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 12, 2009


    This book was amazing. Highly recommend this one. Got better with every turn of the page.

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  • Posted May 3, 2009

    I Also Recommend:

    Very thrilling to read, with many twists and turns to the plot.

    Once the story got going it was hard to put this book down. I have read many books with similiar story lines and this is one of the best.

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  • Posted October 27, 2008

    more from this reviewer

    I Also Recommend:


    The book offered a new spin on the shroud. Flashbacks into the ancient past that explained the present added to the sense of history, interest level, and drama and were highly effective. However, I was a bit amused at the idea that a secret Christian organization could exist that is powerful enough to control governments and financial institutions at a time when churches can run into legal difficulties if they erect a nativity scene on the front lawn. I enjoyed this book but was disappointed in the rushed ending. The main characters were abruptly dismissed and at least one loose end was never tied up. It was hinted throughout the book that there was an insider on the team, but the identity of the spy was never revealed. This was a good read, but it fell short of great at the end.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 15, 2007

    Better than Da Vinci Code

    I liked this book because offends nobody and because opposite to Da Vinci Code the history facts are correct. The writer is able to mix fiction with non-fiction in a very intelligent way. I bought this book while in France since everybody recommended and I was not disapointed it made sense all along and even when it is not as quick in the thriller as Da Vinci Code the story makes more sense all along. Good best seller. You will enjoy it. I am going to buy the next book if I find it in English. Julia Navarro is able to put it together without giving the same happy ending as other authors.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 24, 2007

    Wonderfully Enlighting:

    Best book since Dan Browns last one. Looking forward to more,you will love it too if you like history. Thank you B&N for having these great books.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 7, 2006

    N. Cole - Love to read

    The history of the Shroud of Turin is the subject of this religious suspense thriller.The author tells the tale of the Shroud beginning with the resurrection of Christ to the Crusades, the Knights Templar and onward to the modern day. The detective inspecting suspicious fires in the cathedral where the Shroud is kept, is the Chief of Italian Art Crimes. He and his crew decide that there is a conspiracy to steal the treasure. The race to apprehend the thieves and to also protect the Shroud, kept my intense interest. This is a spellbinding book which I have enjoyed immensely.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 28, 2006

    Compelling story, lavishly detailed

    Absorbing mix of fact and fiction, The Brotherhood of the Holy Shroud is a history lesson within a mystery. Julia Navarro's journalistic instincts are evident in this fascinating re-telling of the origin of the Holy Shroud of Turin. The story is so rich in detail, with historical characters so vividly portrayed, that the reader can forget these events happened centuries ago. Skillfully relating crimes in present-day Turin, Italy with the ancient storyline connects a scheme that deals with secret societies, hidden relics and ancient intrigue to resist the passage of time. This thriller should not be missed!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 1, 2009

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted May 13, 2011

    No text was provided for this review.

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