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Blood of the Lamb: A Novel of Secrets Hardcover – August 6, 2013
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From Publishers Weekly
Under the Cabot pseudonym, Edgar-winner S.J. Rozan (Ghost Hero and 10 other Lydia Chin/Bill Smith novels) teams with academic Carlos Dews on this audacious supernatural religious thriller. Lorenzo Cardinal Cossa, who has just been named Vatican archivist and librarian, asks Fr. Thomas Kelly, an American Jesuit, to come to Rome. Cossa needs Kelly's help in locating a missing agreement, the Concordat, signed by Pope Martin V in 1431. The archivist has good reason to fear that the document's public disclosure would seriously damage the Catholic Church, since the Concordat was made, as the authors reveal early on, with the Godless Noantri, otherwise known as vampires. This novel concept sets the book apart from all the other Da Vinci Code imitations, and the inevitable human-vampire romance will appeal to the Twilight crowd, but the deeper secret may strike many readers as too over-the-top, if not actually silly. Agent: Steve Axelrod, Axelrod Agency. (Aug.)
Thomas Kelly, an American Jesuit priest living in Rome, is asked to locate a vital document stolen from the Vatican more than a century ago. Meanwhile Livia Pietro, an Italian art historian, is also looking for the document, but for darker, more frightening reasons. Firmly located in Dan Brown territory, this religious-themed thriller combines historical mystery with modern-day intrigue. The book has a pair of unlikely heroes, and the missing document itself is established as having the power to rock the Vatican to its core. The author’s name is a pseudonym for the writing team of Carlos Dews, a university professor living in Rome, and veteran thriller author S. J. Rozan. It’s tempting to speculate that the idea for the book came from Dews and the actual writing from Rozan, but that might be a simplistic interpretation of their partnership. However they shared the workload, one thing is crystal clear: they’ve produced a first-rate thriller. --David Pitt
Top customer reviews
Despite what the Amazon system may report, my reading was from a hardcover book and not on a Kindle
Sam Cabot's BLOOD OF THE LAMB has a great cover. Actually, it has two great covers, and they are different. The image on the dust jacket is different from that on the hardcover. At the risk of stating the obvious, that's what this book is all about. The basis of the story is a treasure hunt, and the treasure is a document that has been missing from the Vatican archives for a century and a half. What is contained therein has the potential, in the eyes of some, to "bring down the Church." To others, it contains information that desperately needs to be revealed in the interest of fairness and justice. The story, then, is not just a hunt, but also a race, a competition between those who would reveal, and those who would bury. These plot lines make BLOOD OF THE LAMB a relentless page-turner.
Sam Cabot, like his/her cover, and like the characters in the book, is an author with a duality, comprised as Sam is of the writing team of S.J. Rozan and Carlos Dews. Winner of two Edgars and a bunch of other awards, Rozan, has a large and devoted following in the crime fiction community. Dews lives in Rome where he chairs the English Department and directs the Institute for Creative Writing at John Cabot University. Longtime fans of Rozan will find all the elements they have come to expect from her work, rich characters, stunning description, pulsing dialogue, and her trademark eye-popping prose, which is at once stark and lush. No less than in her Lydia Chin/Bill Smith PI series, and other standalones, readers will find the familiar pace, intrigue, and hairpin story switchbacks that continually surprise without straining credulity. Right, credulity. Now about that...
This book, as you may know from advance publicity, other reviews or discussions, involves the undead. You know, vampires. Yet, by the time I finished, I found that apart from the fact that some of the characters are likely to live forever, I was not regarding the story as even remotely paranormal. There is predictable conflict as to exactly what it means to be human between the opposing populations, specifically those persons who can benefit from a term life policy, and those who can't. (What an actuarial nightmare this could be for insurance companies). Given the legacy of man's inhumanity to man, the definition of human is hardly a frivolous issue. "Noantri" is a contraction of "noi altri," a Romanesco term meaning "we others," and is the term by which the vampires refer to themselves. In that respect, they are not not unlike the Israelites who regarded themselves as "the chosen people," or members of the "church," any church, which translates as chosen, selected, called out, or the indigenous peoples of the American continents. Among Native Americans the name in their own language by which they refered to themselves invariably meant "people." The implication was that their tribe, and only their own tribe, was human. That offers some insight into the centuries of savage brutality they inflicted on each other before Europeans arrived and began to inflict it on all of them together. While there may have been a time when tribal and group competition on a lethal level was beneficial to the human race, we have now reached a point where it threatens all life on earth. All. Having read BLOOD OF THE LAMB, I am convinced it is time to open our hearts (not literally, there is an alternative presented in the story) and minds to those of different looks, walks, talks, diets, and life expectancy, i.e., limited vs. unlimited. The fact that some people don't need Cyndi Crawford's anti-aging potions doesn't make them our enemies. Objects of our envy, maybe, but not our enemies.
There is one flaw, I found, with BLOOD OF THE LAMB. As the second Sam Cabot book will not be out until next year, I decided to parse this one to myself in measured increments to prolong the enjoyment. I read twenty pages during the first sitting, and twenty pages during the second. I finished it on the third. At 2:30 in the morning. Man, did I have some weird dreams that night.
I shouldn't have worried. Cabot's vampires may not be monsters like I remember from Nosferatu and a plethora of Universal and Hammer Studios movies, but they are equally removed from the teen-angsty, sparkly romantic vampires of recent vintage. They are complex and fascinating creatures, as fully realized as the wonderful human characters in the novel. And the DaVinci Codish aspects of the story pick up on the things Brown did well (and does them better) while not falling into his flaws. In other words, this was a wonderfully original take on both themes, combining them in unexpected ways, and carrying me along in an exciting rush to a satisfying conclusion.
One of the things I loved about this was that it was compassionately written. By that, I mean that all of the characters, heroes and villains alike, are so well realized. We may not like everyone, but we understand what makes them tick, and feel a little sympathy, even for the worst of them. In a story that pits priests against vampires it would have been easy to use the old stereotype (heroic priests vs. undead monsters) of the new stereotype (romantic vampires vs. the evil and corrupt bastions of organized religion) but Cabot doesn't take either shortcut. Nor do we get the obligatory nitwit policemen getting in the protagonists' way as they fumble through a case they can't understand.
Nope, Cabot's characters are multi-dimensional, and I found myself rooting for the (delightfully shrewd) cops almost as much as the two protaganists; an idealistic young priest and a Noantri historian.
I could go on, but I'll just say, the action is fast and furious, and broken up by some wonderful interludes of wisdom and warmth, the riddles are clever, and the revelations are a lot of fun. I enjoyed this tremendously!