Thursday, 10 April 2014

Blood of the Lamb

by Sam Cabot
PENGUIN GROUP Blue Rider Press - First Edition edition (August 6, 2013)
433 pages - 16.68 $ (kindle edition)

Sam Cabot is a pseudonym for two authors: SJ Rozan who lives in Manhattan and Carlos Dews, who lives in Rome.

The Historian meets The Da Vinci Code in this exhilarating supernatural thriller set in Rome, where rival groups are searching for a document that holds a secret that could shatter the Catholic Church.

This document, dear friend, will shatter the Church...  

Reading these words in a letter in a dusty archive, Thomas Kelly is skeptical. The papers to which they refer have vanished, but Father Kelly, a Jesuit priest, doubts anything could ever have had that power—until the Vatican suddenly calls him to Rome to begin a desperate search for that very document.

Meanwhile, standing before a council of her people, Livia Pietro receives instructions: she must find a Jesuit priest recently arrived in Rome, and join his search for a document that contains a secret so shocking it has the power to destroy not only the Catholic Church, but Livia’s people as well.

As cryptic messages from the past throw Thomas and Livia into a treacherous world of art, religion, and conspiracy, they are pursued by those who would cross any line to obtain the document for themselves. Thomas and Livia must race to stop the chaos and destruction that the revelation of these secrets would create. Livia, though, has a secret of her own: She and her people are vampires.

In a sprawling tapestry that combines the religious intrigue of Dan Brown with the otherworldly terror of Stephenie Meyer, Blood of the Lamb is an unforgettable journey into an unthinkable past.

What I think of it

I enjoyed walking through the streets of Trasteverde near Rome. The descriptions are not too long and fairly well written so I can imagine all the places. One appreciate the sweetness of Rome, the Italian life, the churches and their timeless beauty. The descriptions are very well done, Livia and Thomas are friendly and the characters in general are well written.

There's without doubt a small Da Vinci Code side in this novel, this time through hidden poems that will ultimately enable Livia and Thomas to discover a very important and amazing document. This document, the heart of the novel, is sought by different groups for completely opposite grounds. Between those who want to disclose it and those who want to leave it hidden, followers of pros and cons have very different reasons to do so. Livia and Thomas are sent by their respective groups to find the document and must work together, to the chagrin of Thomas when he discovers what Livia is.

I enjoyed the the authors's view about vampires. It's far from Twilight or Interview with the vampire. Not too bloody or too watered down. The nature of vampires is scientifically explained which makes it almost plausible. Known elements (garlic, mirror and other anti-vampire weapons) are presented here as a folklore maintained by the vampires themselves to enable them to better hide among non- vampires. It is very well done.

What I like least about the book is the religious aspect. I skipped several passages a little too much like an essay on religion for my taste and that's rarely a good thing! One of Elmore Leonard's 10 writing rules is to remove passages that readers tend to skip. The concern of these passages is that they tend to make less dynamic narrative. This novel is not a page-turner, even if the action is always present.

Another flaw but much less serious concerns the similarity of names of some characters. The three police orders team up to arrest what they think are religious relics thieves. However, two investigators from two police orders have somewhat similar names. As a result, it took me some time to understand who was who. This is certainly not a big deal but it hinders the flow of reading when you have to stop to ask " but who is this one already? "

In a nutshell

The writers have written a fantasy novel with a vision of vampires quite new and credible, which in itself makes it a very cool book. The Italian atmosphere is very nice and there's well-made characters. The small weak point remains the religious aspect too far present for my taste. This is a 3.5 / 5 for me.

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