Jesus Christ's mortal remains turned up in a secret crypt below Jerusalem's Temple Mount in Byrnes's 2007 debut, The Sacred Bones. Now DNA extracted from those remains cures geneticist Charlotte Hennessy of cancer in this equally outlandish sequel. Assassins track Hennessy to Phoenix, Ariz., where they kill her boss and significant other, Evan Aldrich. Hennessy and her ally, Fr. Patrick Donovan, struggle to survive as they attempt to foil the schemes of a motley assortment of villains in search of the now missing Jesus relics, notably American-born Rabbi Aaron Cohen. Another duo, Israeli archeologist Amit Mizrachi and his romantic interest, Egyptologist Julie LeRoux, also attract Cohen's unwelcome attention. A formulaic plot, which includes abduction and the threat of sexual violence, builds to a denouement that will be familiar to viewers of the first Indiana Jones movie. (Apr.)Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
Sacred Bloodby Michael Byrnes
The bones were just the beginning . . .
When American geneticist Charlotte Hennesey examined what she believed were the remains of Jesus, the Vatican buried her discovery. But the DNA Charlotte extracted from the sacred bones and injected into her own body has eliminated every trace of the cancer that was devouring her from within. And it has given her the power
The bones were just the beginning . . .
When American geneticist Charlotte Hennesey examined what she believed were the remains of Jesus, the Vatican buried her discovery. But the DNA Charlotte extracted from the sacred bones and injected into her own body has eliminated every trace of the cancer that was devouring her from within. And it has given her the power to perform medical miracles.
Now wheels have been set in motion that will have cataclysmic consequences for the volatile Middle East and all humankind. A two-thousand-year-old destiny is about to be fulfilled—resulting in the brazen kidnapping of Charlotte Hennesey, and ensnaring Israeli archaeologist Amit Mizrachi and noted Egyptologist Julie LeRoux in an ancient mystery centered around the world's most powerful relic. As zealots plot to rip the Holy Land asunder, the race begins to avert the unthinkable—for the armies gathering to meet on the hills of Meggido can mean only one thing: Armageddon!
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Read an Excerpt
The Sacred Blood
A flock of pigeons took flight as Father James Martin moved swiftly around Caligula's obelisk, which rose up from the center of Piazza San Pietro like a colossal dagger against the steel-gray sky. Its mid-September shadow would normally have let him know that it was just past five o'clock. But for the third consecutive day, the sun remained hidden behind a shroud of lifeless clouds. Glancing over at St. Peter's Basilica, he saw the faithful pilgrims queued for the last tour. Even a typhoon couldn't scare them away, he thought.
He pulled his raincoat tighter to fight off a damp chill. He'd need to move quickly to beat the imminent downpour.
Near the end of Via della Conciliazione, he heard a voice calling to him over the sounds of the traffic.
Stopping, Martin turned. A man waved to him, splashing through the shallow puddles in quick strides. Of medium height and build, he was ordinary looking—clean-shaven with dark hair and unreadable dark eyes. "Si?" Martin replied.
"Sorry to bother you on your way home," he said, planting himself at arm's length.
A laminated Vatican ID badge was prominently displayed on the lapel of his raincoat, just below his white priest collar. The unfamiliar face was forgettable. Italian? Lebanese? Maybe thirtysomething, or perhaps a youthful fifty, Martin guessed. "Have we met?"
The man shook his head. "Not yet."
"What can I do for you, Father... ?"
"Fabrizio Orlando." He extended his right hand.
Italian. When Martin reciprocated, henoticed that the priest's skin was rough. Unusual for a cleric. Perhaps the man had spent time as a missionary? The Lord's call doesn't place everyone behind a desk, Martin reminded himself.
"I've just been appointed to the secretariat's office."
Why hadn't he been notified? "I see. Welcome to Vatican City."
"Grazie. Mind if I walk with you for a minute?"
Suspicion showed in Martin's eyes. "Not at all."
The two men proceeded down the sidewalk past the cafés and souvenir shops.
"I was told you'd been Cardinal Antonio Santelli's secretary?"
"That's right." Martin's gait quickened and the man kept pace beside him.
"Very unfortunate, His Eminence's death. A deep loss for the Holy See." He tightened his lips in a show of solemnity. "He was a visionary." As they approached Piazza Pia's busy thoroughfare, his pitch rose to compete with the bus and scooter traffic. "Many had said he would be the Holy Father's successor."
"Yes, well..." Attempting to echo the priest's fond words, Martin stalled, knowing that his own remembrances wouldn't be nearly as complimentary. The fact remained that regardless of Santelli's unsullied public image as having been a last great defender of Catholic dogma, the late cardinal had been merciless to his subordinates—a bulldog. Martin chose to bow his head in prayer.
"May God rest his soul," Orlando said loudly as a whining Vespa sped past.
At the busy intersection, they remained silent to negotiate the crosswalk.
Martin resumed the conversation as he led the way down the cobbled walkway in front of Castel Sant'Angelo's outer rampart. "So how can I assist you, Father?"
The priest's chin tipped up. "Yes, about business then." A momentary stare down at the roiling Tiber helped him collect his thoughts. "The secretariat has retained my services to assist in ongoing inquiries concerning the death of Dr. Giovanni Bersei."
Martin stiffened. "I see."
They angled onto Ponte Sant'Angelo.
The man went on to convey what his fact-finding mission had yielded thus far. Back in June, Italian anthropologist Giovanni Bersei had been commissioned by Cardinal Santelli to assist in a highly secretive project inside the Vatican. Only days later, Bersei had been found dead in the catacombs beneath Villa Torlonia. An elderly docent was also found dead on the premises and a routine autopsy showed he had been injected with heart-arresting toxins. Roman authorities had investigated the foul play. Santelli, too, Orlando conspiratorially reminded him, had succumbed to heart failure only a day later, though the Holy See had refused an autopsy.
By the time the Italian had finished, he'd trailed Martin to within a block of his apartment building.
There was no doubt Orlando was well informed. But Martin wasn't looking to rehash the exhaustive questioning he'd endured in the weeks that followed the cardinal's death. "I trust you have been informed that the carabinieri have completed their investigations?"
The man's lips pulled tight. "Mine is an internal investigation," he repeated.
Approaching the narrow alley that was the shortcut to his apartment building, Martin stopped. "I don't mean to be rude, but I think it would be best for us to speak about this during business hours. After I've obtained permission from the secretariat's office."
Orlando forced a placated smile. "I understand."
"A pleasure to meet you, Father Orlando." Martin nodded.
Martin stuffed his hands into his pockets and turned down the alley. As he was about to pass a stocky deliveryman unloading produce boxes from an idling van, he heard the priest calling after him again, quick footsteps tapping along the ancient cobblestones.
Stopping in his tracks, Martin's shoulders slumped. Before he could turn to address Orlando, the anxious priest had circled in front of him.
"If I could just have another moment."
"What is it?"
Later, Martin would recall no answer. Just the priest's eyes turning cold, slipping back to the sidewalk, then up to the windows overlooking the alleyway, and finally over Martin's shoulder to the deliveryman.
Without warning, two strong hands grabbed at Martin's coat, yanking hard, forcing his body into an uncontrolled spin, directly toward the van's open cargo hold.
What in God's name?!
A sharp blow to the knees forced him down onto the cold metal floor. "Aiuto!" he screamed out to anyone who might hear. "Aiu—"The Sacred Blood. Copyright © by Michael Byrnes. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold.
Meet the Author
Michael Byrnes attended Montclair State University in Montclair, New Jersey, and earned his graduate degree in business administration at Rutgers. Byrnes lives in Florida with his wife, Caroline, and daughters, Vivian and Camille.
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