First and foremost, a large thank you to NetGalley, Steve Berry, Hachette Audio and Grand Central Publishing for providing me with a copy of this publication, which allows me to provide you with an unbiased review.
Well-written fiction with a historical flavoring takes on a new level with Steve Berry at the helm. His stories are both rich in their narrative and full of action, providing the reader with a wonderful reading experience. This standalone provides an intriguing look into a historical artifact, peppered with Christian history, that offers context to a great deal of what is purported as truth today. Berry does it again, treating his fans to a stellar read.
History has shown that religious relics are commonly stolen, hidden, and discovered years later. The Ghent Altarpiece is one such item, but holds the title of being the most confiscated item ever, after thirteen instances of being stolen or disfigured. No one seems to know why, until now.
Nicholas Lee has a prestigious job within the United Nations, as a UNESCO investigator. He’s tasked with investigating cultural and religious items, trying to look into their history and displacement. Trying to protect cultural artifacts around the world is a tough job, but Nick’s up for the challenge.
Nick makes his way to Belgium where someone from his past awaits him. Unbeknownst to him, it’s also where a part of the Ghent Alterpiece is being tracked, last seen just before the Second World War. As Nick tries following the trail, he is thrust into the middle of a conflict that has been brewing for centuries, between a secret order of nuns who vow to protect the truth and the Vatican, wanting to bring the Ghent Alterpiece together to make an astounding revelation. As the Maidens of Saint-Michael are revealed, hired guns within the Vatican try to wrest control of the Alterpiece that possesses many secrets, leaving Nick to scramble for safety.
It’s a matter of life and death for Nick and those around him. With twists and turns all throughout the oldest part of Europe, the story takes readers on an adventure that only Berry could construct, both from fiction and well-placed actual facts. A delightfully intense story that will keep fans of the author on the edge of their seats!
I always enjoy when Steve Berry publishes another book, sure to find something entertaining and educational with each story. This was no exception, diving deep into religious history and controversies known to few. Berry extracts these in his narrative and takes the reader on an adventure like no other. Full of history, great characters, and a stellar plot, Berry impresses yet again.
Nick Lee is a great protagonist in this piece, serving not only a great role, but offering readers a treat throughout. There are some wonderful backstory moments, helping the reader to see the man in this standalone thriller, as well as key development throughout. Berry is able to infuse a wonderful depth in his characters and Nick is surely one of the best, both in this story and of the many novels the author has penned. I want to know more and will have to be hyper vigilant, in case Berry brings him along, even in passing, when Cotton Malone returns.
A storyteller of Berry’s ilk knows how to pull a reader in with ease, offering up wonderful stories as they educate in equal measure. The narrative works well and builds throughout, offering history and some education with each page turn. Those who know Berry’s work will join me in agreeing that everything is a mix of fact and fiction, though sometimes it is hard to tell the difference. A cast of well-developed characters and a few plot lines in which they can blossom rounds out the story, keeping the reader on their toes. As always, there is a deep history, involving the Church a great deal of the time, which left me wondering much about what I know and think I expected to be incontrovertible truth. I can see that there is much I do not know and need to learn, as Berry reveals much in the post-script of his book.
Kudos, Mr. Berry, for another great piece. While I miss Cotton Malone, this was definitely well worth the time invested.