From the Publisher
"Sierra's narrative moves smoothly, fluidly...[and makes] art history palatable and exciting." -- Los Angeles Times
"A fascinating yarn and very well told.... Speaks volumes about Leonardo's mastery with a brush." -- San Francisco Chronicle
"For fans of religious conspiracy and reinterpretations of religious history." -- The Washington Post
"Offers a new way of interpreting The Last Supper...[and] a fresh contribution to the da Vinci industry." -- Publishers Weekly
"A most satisfying entertainment....The monastic life has not been depicted as vividly by any novelist since Umberto Eco's bestselling Name of the Rose." -- Daily News (New York)
In this clever fiction, the hidden codes of Leonardo da Vinci raise temperatures among his contemporaries. Late in the 15th century, a series of cryptic, anonymous missives alert church officials to the possibility that subversive messages might be concealed in the artistry of The Last Supper. Dispatched to Milan to investigate, Father Agostino Leyre begins an act of aesthetic and historic decoding that takes us to the final line of the last page.
Set in the late 15th century, Sierra's first book translated into English revolves around a papal inquisitor's investigation into Leonardo da Vinci's alleged heresies and offers a new way of interpreting The Last Supper. After receiving a series of cryptic messages from "the Soothsayer," who warns the 15th century church that "art can be employed as a weapon," the Secretariat of Keys of the Papal States dispatches Father Agostino Leyre on a twofold mission to Milan: identify the Soothsayer and discover what, if any, messages da Vinci is hiding in the painting. Leyre, who narrates, views the in-progress Last Supper at the Santa Maria delle Grazie and becomes fascinated. He makes a series of sometimes muddled discoveries about the painting, leading up to his interpretation of the painting's true meaning (not revealed until the last line of the last page). Those not well versed in Catholic history may have trouble following the many subplots involving factionalism and dissent within the church. The combination of code breaking, secrecy, chicanery within the Catholic Church and a certain artist is by now a familiar one, but Sierra's book, already a bestseller in Europe, is a fresh contribution to the da Vinci industry. (Mar.) Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
Spanish historian, author, and television host and producer Sierra (Rosewell: Secreto del Estado) uncovers the secret hidden in Leonardo da Vinci's The Last Supper in a novel set in 1497 Milan. Friar Agostino Leyre, a Dominican inquisitor, has been sent from Rome to determine the identity of the Soothsayer, an informant who has been sending messages to the Pope implicating Leonardo in spreading heresy, particularly through his latest masterpiece. Leyre takes up residence at the monastery where The Last Supper is being painted and discovers secrets on many levels, in both the monastery and Leonardo's fresco. This novel will inevitably be compared with Dan Brown's The Da Vinci Code, and though on the surface it is similar, with messages hidden in art and conspiracies within the Church, Sierra finds an alternate (but equally convincing) message in Leonardo's masterpiece. The language of the two novels is also very different, Sierra's being more detailed, written in the first person, and set firmly in the 15th century. Secret Supper is also possibly more confusing than The Da Vinci Code, but it is a good read in its own right. [See Prepub Alert, LJ 11/15/05.]-Lisa O'Hara, Univ. of Manitoba Libs., Winnepeg Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
No mere Da Vinci Code redux, this Spanish bestseller fuses an ecclesiastical whodunit with an A-Z guide to Neoplatonist philosophy and Renaissance symbology. Leonardo's masterwork The Last Supper has become the 15th century's Zapruder film, obsessively scrutinized for clues to conspiracies. Now Sierra (La Dama Azul, 2005, etc.) produces a corker: His Da Vinci is a Cathar, member of a heretical sect espousing a mystical Christianity. And, as Father Agostino, Sierra's clerical super-sleuth, detects, the world's most famous fresco drips with cryptic Cathar propaganda. Isn't that Leonardo himself, after all, at the left of the Passover table, chatting up Plato? Don't the 12 apostles resonate with astrological and numerological significance? And isn't there a secret message their gestures and names spell out? Maybe this "discovery" is balderdash, but it's fascinating fun. We meet Marsilio Ficino, rescuer of esoteric Egyptian wisdom, Savonarola, so shocked by Botticelli's paganism that he convinces that fine painter to trash his brush, Lorenzo the Magnificent, ultra-Renaissance Man-all real-life titans portrayed with a storyteller's zest for anecdote. Sierra's breakneck plotting provides the novel's juice, but its satisfying aftertaste comes from its erudite explaining of the art of the symbol: The last thing the quattrocento masters intended was to paint just "pretty pictures." Instead, they aimed at allegory, constructing visual narratives rich in coded signs and wonders, an achievement long celebrated by historians and Jungians alike. In ushering general readers into that numinous realm, the author ensures that they'll never again rush through a museum. Sierra is a more sophisticated writerthan Dan Brown, and he offers fresh perspective on the Renaissance mind.