First and foremost, a large thank you to Gary McAvoy for providing me with a copy of this publication, which allows me to provide you with an unbiased review.
Gary McAvoy never ceases to amaze with his stellar writing, one of the reasons I rushed to begin the latest novel in the Vatican Secret Archive series, featuring Father Michael Dominic. As McAvoy collaborates with Ronald L. Moore, they examine yet another mystery housed within the Vatican, while sinister forces seek to push the limits once again. McAvoy and Moore guide readers through a historical event shrouded in secrecy, providing plausible possibilities, which only amp up the level of curiosity. The story of the Secrets of Fatima is one known to many Catholics around the world. When Pope John Paul II revealed the third secret in 2000, he did so to dispel much of the hype that had built up over the past forty years, when his predecessors began refusing to share the secret with the general public. Now, an American priest and scholar is dead, and a group known as the Knights of the Apocalypse (KOTA) claim that the End Times are nigh, as they prepare to reveal the true text of the secret. Father Michael Dominic is pulled into the middle, seeking to find the true document and ensure the sitting pope is privy to its meaning, so that the Church can face its enemies, including those from within. McAvoy and Moore do a sensational job with the action and posit some intriguing possibilities for the reader to synthesise.
When three children saw a vision of the Holy Mother in 1917, their small Portuguese town was put on the map. The Three Secrets of Fatima became one of the major miracles chronicled by the Church. Two of the three secret, depicting premonitions, were revealed, though the third, so shocking and scandalous, was never publicly shared. Popes shied away from it, as its truths, speaking of the End of Days, were too problematic. Seeking to dilute the gossip and wonder, Pope John Paul II shed light on the secret in 2000, though many believe it was a false message meant to extinguish flames of speculation and curiosity.
When a priest and scholar working on a piece about the truth surrounding the Third Secret is found murdered in Chicago, a local police constable cannot help but wonder if there is a Vatican connection. When the name of Father Michael Dominic enters the discussion, said constable is keen to learn more from the man who heads the Vatican Secret Archives. A trip to Rome is in order, where the constable connects with one of her Italian counterparts to open an international investigation.
After approaching Father Dominic, he is just as confused as they are, but soon learns that there is more to the story than meets the eye. During the nefarious past few years, it would seem that the sitting pope was not given access to a key collection of documents, which include the Third Secret of Fatima. All the while, a group calling itself the Knights of the Apocalypse (KOTA) begins broadcasting news that they are in the possession of the Secret and will soon reveal it. This pushes Catholics around the world into a panic and places the Vatican on the defensive.
While Father Dominic and his core team race around Europe to locate a key that will grant the sitting pope access to a safe that contains the true documents, they are followed by those who would rather see them dead. Dominic soon learns how important these documents could be, as well as the importance to obtain the truth before KOTA wrestles control of the Vatican’s trust away from the world at large. What neither Dominic nor the sitting pope can know is just how far some people will go to discredit the Vatican hierarchy once and for all, tied to a handful of men who have been eyeing revenge for years. A brilliant addition to the series, which presents new layers of wonder related to Catholic truths and secrecy within the Holy See.
I have followed Gary McAvoy on this Vatican journey from the opening pages of the debut novel, which gripped me like few other series I have read. Many themes point to a Vatican that remains complex and multi-layered, which mirrors the Catholic Church in general. McAvoy brings Ronald L. Moore in as a collaborator, allowing them to find ways to bring the story to life and create gripping adventures, layered with historical events. The characters grow on the series reader as each story connects seamlessly. The authors provide a great series for all to enjoy, particularly the reader with an interest in all things Vatican.
Father Michael Dominic resumes his role as protagonist of the series, continuing to make his mark. His backstory remains complex and evolving, as series fans have come to discover. Devout in his faith, Dominic enjoys his work within the Vatican Archives, though he finds mysteries outside the walls of the Holy See that keep him constantly on the run. Danger appears to surround him, though he evades it with prowess, rather than pure brawn. The series has moved into some intriguing times, leaving the reader to wonder how Dominic will fit into the larger narrative, particularly with his revelation in the closing pages.
Gary McAvoy has long created a buzz around his stories and the collaborative effort with Ronald L. Moore once again puts the reader in the middle of the action. The narrative develops with each passing chapter, providing mysteries and curiosities sure to leave the reader hungering for more. As the authors intertwiine modern events with historical goings-on, explosive revelations add depth to an already strong foundation. Well-crafted characters, particularly those who reappear and build on their past developments, help create an emotional connection for the reader. While the theme may be the End of Days, once can hope McAvoy (and Moore?) have more to say on the matter, as things have reached a tense point in the series, with an obvious fork in the road towards future developments.
Kudos, Messrs. McAvoy and Moore, for another great piece in the series. You have captivated me yet again!