The Stolen Chalice

The Stolen Chalice

3.5 4
by Kitty Pilgrim

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From glamorous and renowned CNN journalist Kitty Pilgrim, an international thriller set in the art world that’s “sure to appeal to fans of Iris Johansen and Sandra Brown” (Booklist).

What links an antique treasure to a sinister group of terrorists? CNN veteran Kitty Pilgrim sweeps us into the glamorous international art world,

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From glamorous and renowned CNN journalist Kitty Pilgrim, an international thriller set in the art world that’s “sure to appeal to fans of Iris Johansen and Sandra Brown” (Booklist).

What links an antique treasure to a sinister group of terrorists? CNN veteran Kitty Pilgrim sweeps us into the glamorous international art world, as lovely oceanographer Cordelia Stapleton and urbane archaeologist John Sinclair return in a perilous new quest.

When Cordelia and Sinclair attend a star-studded gala at the New York Metropolitan Museum, they anticipate merely a pleasurable evening. But as the elite dine and dance in the centuries-old Temple of Dendur, terrorists are planning a deadly assault. The attack is foiled, but it distracts from a massive heist of Egyptian art treasures around the city—among them the fabulous Sardonyx Cup.

The millionaire owner asks Sinclair for help retrieving it, and to Cordelia’s distress, her lover also recruits his old flame, Egyptologist Holly Graham. From a sprawling Wyoming ranch to a Scottish castle, the mysterious canals of Venice, and to Egypt itself, the search leads them to plans for a deadly bio-weapon attack. But could the chalice itself have special powers? Science and the supernatural collide as romantic tension sizzles. And now the three are moving into mortal danger. . . .

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
“What a page turner! I always knew Kitty Pilgrim could write down and report the facts. Now she has turned her journalistic skills and keen understanding of the world to pen an exciting novel. The Explorer’s Code takes you on a wild ride to exotic places filled with greed, intrigue, suspense and colorful characters — rich, beautiful people and villains worth hating. Oh - and the heroes are science geeks! There’s nothing more I could ask for from a thriller.” — Miles O’Brien, Science Correspondent, PBS New Hour

"Captivating characters, scientific intrigue, polar exploration, and romantic tension all wrapped up in a mad dash around the world that will leave you breathless! Only Kitty Pilgrim could so deftly bring together this story of Russian oligarchs, the 1918 flu epidemic, St Paul's letter to the Ephesians, the twisted roads of the Cote D’Azur, and the rarified air of the well-heeled into such a vivid and unforgettable novel. I could not put it down.".

— Christine Romans, CNN host and author of Smart is the New Rich

“Kitty Pilgrim crafts a rollicking good read in The Explorer’s Code, an intelligent thriller that races from one romantic and exotic dateline to the next, propelled by characters who are smart, sexy and sinister. A must read for anyone who loves adventure with a brain. Guaranteed to leave you chilled, breathless and demanding a sequel!” — Martin Savidge, International Correspondent, CNN

“By land, by air, by sea...Kitty Pilgrim spins a fast-paced mystery packed with roller-coaster ups and downs and an irresistible heroine like no other — Cordelia Stapleton.” — Nancy Grace, Television host and author of Destiny on the D-List

“I love a journey filled with adventure, intrigue and twists and turns. In The Explorers Code, Kitty nailed it. Her character development is flawless and in Cordelia Stapleton is an irresistible intellect and strength that draws you into each moment, page by page. You are just waiting for her to fall in love. This adventure surely doesn't disappoint! I'm already looking forward to what's next from Kitty!” — AJ Hammer, "Showbiz Tonight" CNN Headline News

"A masterful debut sure to appeal to fans of Iris Johansen and Sandra Brown." Carol Haggas, Booklist

"CNN correspondent Pilgrim's entertaining debut focuses on a classic theme: the search for missing treasure…(There’s) a whirlwind hunt from one exotic locale to the next…a storybook romance, odious and loathsome villains, Hollywood settings—it all works, providing a heady and highly engaging mix." Publishers Weekly

“By land, by air, by sea...Kitty Pilgrim spins a fast-paced mystery packed with roller-coaster ups and downs and an irresistible heroine like no other — Cordelia Stapleton.” Nancy Grace, Television host and author of Destiny on the D-List

Publishers Weekly
In CNN journalist Pilgrim's overheated second romantic thriller featuring archeologist John Sinclair and oceanographer Cordelia Stapleton (after 2011's The Explorer's Code), the pair face an exhausting series of trials, which range from a heist at a Metropolitan Museum of Art gala to the looming threat of a catastrophic attack designed to bring down "half the governments of the industrialized world." Pilgrim populates her book's world with beautiful people wearing beautiful clothes and accessories, who travel in style on yachts and private jets, a description that applies to the good and bad guys alike. Chief villains are the exotic Lady Xandra Sommerset, a "British royal and international party girl," and charismatic Moustaffa Gemeyal, head of the terrorist group Common Dream and Xandra's lover. Sinclair's former lover, Egyptologist Dr. Hollis Graham, adds romantic tension. The action moves all over the world, with stops in New York, London, Scotland, and Venice, before reaching its fevered and unlikely climax in Sharm el Sheikh. (June)
Kirkus Reviews
In award-winning reporter Pilgrim's (The Explorer's Code, 2011) latest mainstream adventure, the social register's big names walk the red carpet at the Ancient Civilizations Ball at New York City's Metropolitan Museum of Art. There, the glitterati witness the theft of some precious antiquities. One guest is the intriguingly handsome John Sinclair, a titan amongst archaeologists and a man with a reputation for skillful recovery of stolen antiquities. In a high-dollar narrative rife with stops at the Carlyle, Mayfair, and Balmoral and laced with superlatives about the rich-and-famous lifestyle--think Maybach sedans, Gulfstream jets and oceangoing yachts--Sinclair is hired to recover the Sardonyx Cup, carved in Alexandria's Ptolemaic era and later used in Communion at the wedding Mass of Eleanor of Aquitaine and Louis VII. The Sardonyx Cup's legend says it imparts long life and prosperity. The cup belongs to mega-rich Ted VerPlanck, whose wife, Tipper, is addicted to alcohol, drugs, rock stars and film directors. Her weaknesses come into play, as do the missteps and ultimate financial ruin of Charlie Hannifin, a museum official easy to corrupt. The stolen art also provides cult-leader terrorist Moustaffa Gemeyal with financial resources, which are laundered by the Manucci crime family. In the complex and confused operation that purloined the cup and the Museum of Art's antiquities, the Brooklyn Museum also lost the Fayoum mummy of Artemidorus, a theft engineered by the half-Egyptian Lady Xandra Sommerset, Moustaffa's sometime lover. That plops Dr. Holly Graham, Sinclair's former lover, into the middle of his recovery adventure, which in turn lures Carter Wallace, a young assistant with a crush on Holly, into the mix. Holly's presence doesn't sit well with Cordelia Stapleton, Sinclair's new flame, who tags along only to be kidnapped by Lady Sommerset. The cup is found and the mummy too, and then Sinclair takes time to prevent Moustaffa's bioterrorist attack on an international conference at Sharm el Sheikh. Entertaining escapist fare via crime fighting from New York to London to Venice via private jets, luxury hotels and yachts at sea.

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Product Details

Pocket Books
Publication date:
John Sinclair & Cordelia Stapleton Series, #2
Product dimensions:
4.12(w) x 6.75(h) x 1.10(d)

Read an Excerpt

East Seventy-Seventh Street, New York

THE BLACK MERCEDES CLS 550 stopped in front of the Mark Hotel on East Seventy-Seventh Street and the doorman rushed out to open the passenger door. In the fraction of a second it took John Sinclair to step out of the limousine, time collapsed. It had been five years since he last stood in this exact spot, but it seemed like yesterday, with one important difference—life had vastly improved, thanks to Cordelia Stapleton.

He turned to help Cordelia from the car, lacing his fingers through hers, as she surveyed the quiet Upper East Side neighborhood. The canopy of the Mark Hotel was before her, and golden, fan-shaped ginkgo leaves whirled down in the autumn breeze.

“I can’t believe we’re actually here!” she said, her green eyes lighting up with excitement.

“I know I put up some resistance about coming to this gala,” Sinclair admitted, “but now I’m actually looking forward to it.”

The Ancient Civilizations Ball was the most glamorous event of the fall social season. International celebrities and New York society people mingled with the elite of the art and antiquities world. Sinclair’s attendance was sure to generate a buzz. He was a celebrated archaeologist and had discovered more ancient sites than anyone since Howard Carter, the legendary explorer who found King Tut’s tomb.

As Sinclair entered the hotel, the desk manager looked up.

“Welcome back, Mr. Sinclair! So nice to see you again.”

“How are you, Bernie? It’s been entirely too long. I’d like you to meet Cordelia Stapleton.”

“Miss Stapleton, delighted! No need to register, I have your information. What time would you like the hotel car to pick you up this evening?”

“Seven-thirty would be fine,” Sinclair said, checking his watch.

The manager walked with them to the elevator, reached in, and punched the button for the tenth floor. As it ascended, Sinclair watched the lights—3, 4, 5—and then turned to Cordelia.

“I’m so glad you’re here with me, Delia,” he said, using her childhood nickname.

She gave him a look that lingered for another two floors. Then he moved decisively, pulling her toward him. She melted into his chest, pressing her cheek against his white shirt. He bent down and kissed her until the chime of the elevator registered in his brain and she pulled away.

“I’ll get the bags settled and then we can continue our . . . conversation,” Sinclair said as he followed the uniformed bellman into the bedroom of the suite.

Cordelia watched his broad shoulders retreat down the hall and turned to survey the living room—tastefully decorated in shades of pale gold. On the bar, an ice bucket held Veuve Clicquot and Badoit mineral water. Out the window, skyscrapers glowed silver against the evening sky.

“John, you should look at this view!” she called.

All was silent, only the air conditioner was whirring.


No answer. She entered the bedroom and found Sinclair asleep, fully clothed. He was a gorgeous sight, stretched out in his elegant Savile Row suit. There was a formal stateliness to his position—flat on his back, arms at his sides—as if he were an ancient pharaoh lying on a bier. His face was still deeply tanned from the expedition to Egypt, a contrast to the white pillowcase. Sinclair had strong features, classically handsome, but with a rugged appearance that spoke of sun and sand, and a life spent outdoors.

Careful not to disturb him, Cordelia tiptoed over to her suitcase. The zipper made a tearing sound and he stirred.

“I drifted off,” he said sleepily.

“Sorry, I need to hang up my dress.”

Sinclair rolled on his side and propped his head up.

“Care to join me?” He patted the bed next to him. “I know a great cure for jet lag. You’ll feel like a new woman.”

His eyes were dancing, and a smile played around his lips.

“I’m so tired, I might not get up again,” she demurred.

“What’s that over there on the desk?” he asked.

Cordelia hung up her gown and then walked over to a huge vase of white lilies wrapped in glistening cellophane. She pulled off the card and read it aloud.

“Dear Delia, Have a great time at the gala. Love, Jim Gardiner.”

“He really does spoil you,” Sinclair observed.

“He always did,” she agreed, walking toward the bathroom. “I think there’s time for a nice soak before we go out.”

The bath was palatial—a large, footed tub and his-and-her marble sinks.

“Ohhh . . . they have my favorite ginseng bubble bath!” she called back to him, seizing the Molton Brown bottle.

“Is that tub big enough for two?” she heard him ask from the bedroom.

“Of course.”

She turned on the tap, undressed, pinned up her hair, and slipped in, feeling the warm water slide over her limbs. Sinclair appeared in the doorway, holding the bottle of champagne and two flute glasses. His tie was pulled loose and his shoes were off.

“May I join you?”

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Meet the Author

Award-winning CNN correspondent and anchor for CNN news Kitty Pilgrim traveled to the farthest reaches of the world on assignment. After twenty-four years as a broadcast journalist, Kitty has taken on an exciting new assignment—writing novels. Pilgrim is the recipient of an Overseas Press Club Award, a Peabody Award, The New York Society of Black Journalists Award, and is currently on the U.S. advisory board of Reporters Without Borders , and a full member of the historic Explorer’s Club. She is a single mother of two sons and lives in New York City and Rhinecliff, New York.

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The Stolen Chalice : A Novel 3.5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 4 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book was perfect for a afternoon snuggle on the couch. It was luscious enough with the details about five star hotels, fancy yachts and private jets, yet it had a smart worldly edge that lets you know this author had been a place or two. Good escapist reading. I am looking or more of her books right away.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
A fun beach read, but the overuse of italics was extremely distracting...
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Sorry, this is a well written book, but it didn't come across as the Thriller I had expected from the summary. I made it through 78 pages, then finally gave up realizing that it was a Romance/Soap Opera storyline. I lost interest when I realized I wasn't reading what I expected. I will be in the minority on this and most women will really enjoy this story with the crushes, coy looks across a crowded room and warm embraces from old lovers. Be prepared for a character list that you will have to manage also. I'll blame it on the packaging by the publisher.