"An elegant, twisty thriller in which a gay couple investigates a mysterious suicide in a scenic Italian hill town. It's not hard to imagine that this book could do for Orvieto what Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil did for Savannah." –Armistead Maupin, author of the internationally acclaimed Tales of the City
An American couple in Italy investigate the suicide of a cleric in the picturesque Italian city of Orvietoand find themselves plunged into a conspiracy that may destroy the Catholic Church. In the stunning thriller Upon This Rock, San Francisco business executive Lee Maury and his husband Adriano come to Orvieto to soak in the city's beauty and rich history, but Lee becomes fascinated with a local tragedy, the suicide one year earlier of Deacon Andrea, a much-loved candidate for the priesthood.
Growing obsessed with learning the truth behind Andrea's death, Lee and Adriano stumble upon a conspiracy of terrorism, human trafficking, and a plot to destroy one of the Church's most sacred shrinesall somehow linked across 500 years to Renaissance Pope Clement VII, who escaped to Orvieto after the sack of Rome in 1527. Before they know it, Lee and Adriano's dream vacation becomes a race to save innocent livesand not get killed in the process.
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About the Author
Read an Excerpt
He stood on the cliff and prayed.
Useless, he thought, to turn my thoughts to God.
Behind him, the lights of Orvieto reflected in a million icy crystals. Snow had come early this year. It wasn't yet December.
Below, the road would be deserted. He wondered who would find him. Someone would, of course, and for that he was sorry. What a horrible thing to see, to discover: the body of a reprobate, crushed against the rock and never to see forgiveness. Never to see the face of God. Never to see another sunrise.
It should be beautiful, and he smiled. He had often come here to sit near the altar and wait for the dawn. Tomorrow, its rays would reach out to warm the city across a quilt of virginal frost. He had seen it before: prisms of color in the ice. Like a miracle it had seemed to him as a child.
No more: no more dawns, no more rainbows, no more miracles.
He heard the scream, but too late. He had already stepped off the cliff, arms outspread like a cross, and dived for the tombs below.
"Orvieto isn't a place in the book," my husband said after reading it. "it's a character in the book."
I think that's right. Literally, from the first moments in this storied Umbrian town I knew I would write about it. The history of the place splashed over me. This is where a Borgia was mayor and where the Pope received the divorce request from Henry VIII. Orvieto is where the Reformation got real and the Catholic Schism started. The Plague, Roman legions, Cathars, heretics, Nazis, earthquakes, EtruscansOrvieto reeks of history and stays on your skin like a garlic infused olive oil.
My two favorite authors are C.S. Lewis and P.D. James: erudite but approachable. One a children's author; one the "Queen of Murder Mysteries." An early reader of Upon This Rock called it "a lighter and campier Dan Brown." I like that very much, as I adore Dan Brown, and certainly it's as rollicking a ride as one of his thrillers.