A thriller that entertainingly traverses well-traveled territory.

Sacred Blood


A debut murder mystery that revolves around a long-standing history of secrecy at the Vatican.

Anthony Hibbert is the head of classical studies at UCLA and spends most of his time researching ancient Roman texts, most recently at the Vatican Library Secret Archives. He becomes intoxicated by a series of letters written by a 16th-century monk, Federigo Dottore, who ultimately confessed to being an assassin of Pope Julius II. Meanwhile, the current pope prepares for a visit from Avinash Sullivan, a technology billionaire who fronts an activist movement that demands that the Vatican radically improve its transparency. Some people fear that powerful people, who want to keep the Vatican’s internal affairs hidden, may harm Sullivan, and Hibbert is recruited to warn him (although the explanation for his selection is confusing). Sullivan is murdered in his hotel and Hibbert is arrested as a prime suspect, but he’s quickly exonerated. He returns to his scholarly investigations, during which he stumbles upon previously undiscovered, sensual sketches by the famed artist Raphael. On the back of these drawings is Dottore’s handwriting, and a beautiful, Japanese security expert named Akemi Morishima helps Hibbert decipher it. When other suspects in Sullivan’s death are murdered, it complicates an already tangled affair. It’s easy to lose one’s bearings in this story’s swarm of twists and turns, and author Amezquita seems content to let readers stew in their confusion. However, Dottore’s letters, which are presented at considerable length, are a delight to read, as they’re simultaneously sinister and repentant. Also, the author does a marvelous job of making Hibbert a remarkable but endearingly human character. His vulnerability can be striking: “He cannot stop thinking about his date with Akemi while he repeatedly touches his wallet to feel the set of condoms he has slipped into it. Buying them had been an ordeal. He felt the humiliation of a teenager.” Murder mysteries that center on Vatican skullduggery have become a popular genre, and this fits almost too neatly within that formula. This book’s historical astuteness and crackling eroticism, though, justify ranking it among the better options of its type.

A thriller that entertainingly traverses well-traveled territory.

Pub Date: March 4, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-692-58124-7

Page Count: 472

Publisher: CreateSpace

Review Posted Online: May 16, 2016

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There are unforgettable beauties in this very sexy story.


Passion, friendship, heartbreak, and forgiveness ring true in Lovering's debut, the tale of a young woman's obsession with a man who's "good at being charming."

Long Island native Lucy Albright, starts her freshman year at Baird College in Southern California, intending to study English and journalism and become a travel writer. Stephen DeMarco, an upperclassman, is a political science major who plans to become a lawyer. Soon after they meet, Lucy tells Stephen an intensely personal story about the Unforgivable Thing, a betrayal that turned Lucy against her mother. Stephen pretends to listen to Lucy's painful disclosure, but all his thoughts are about her exposed black bra strap and her nipples pressing against her thin cotton T-shirt. It doesn't take Lucy long to realize Stephen's a "manipulative jerk" and she is "beyond pathetic" in her desire for him, but their lives are now intertwined. Their story takes seven years to unfold, but it's a fast-paced ride through hookups, breakups, and infidelities fueled by alcohol and cocaine and with oodles of sizzling sexual tension. "Lucy was an itch, a song stuck in your head or a movie you need to rewatch or a food you suddenly crave," Stephen says in one of his point-of-view chapters, which alternate with Lucy's. The ending is perfect, as Lucy figures out the dark secret Stephen has kept hidden and learns the difference between lustful addiction and mature love.

There are unforgettable beauties in this very sexy story.

Pub Date: June 12, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-5011-6964-9

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Atria

Review Posted Online: March 20, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2018

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The phrase “tour de force” could have been invented for this audacious novel.

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Four men who meet as college roommates move to New York and spend the next three decades gaining renown in their professions—as an architect, painter, actor and lawyer—and struggling with demons in their intertwined personal lives.

Yanagihara (The People in the Trees, 2013) takes the still-bold leap of writing about characters who don’t share her background; in addition to being male, JB is African-American, Malcolm has a black father and white mother, Willem is white, and “Jude’s race was undetermined”—deserted at birth, he was raised in a monastery and had an unspeakably traumatic childhood that’s revealed slowly over the course of the book. Two of them are gay, one straight and one bisexual. There isn’t a single significant female character, and for a long novel, there isn’t much plot. There aren’t even many markers of what’s happening in the outside world; Jude moves to a loft in SoHo as a young man, but we don’t see the neighborhood change from gritty artists’ enclave to glitzy tourist destination. What we get instead is an intensely interior look at the friends’ psyches and relationships, and it’s utterly enthralling. The four men think about work and creativity and success and failure; they cook for each other, compete with each other and jostle for each other’s affection. JB bases his entire artistic career on painting portraits of his friends, while Malcolm takes care of them by designing their apartments and houses. When Jude, as an adult, is adopted by his favorite Harvard law professor, his friends join him for Thanksgiving in Cambridge every year. And when Willem becomes a movie star, they all bask in his glow. Eventually, the tone darkens and the story narrows to focus on Jude as the pain of his past cuts deep into his carefully constructed life.  

The phrase “tour de force” could have been invented for this audacious novel.

Pub Date: March 10, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-385-53925-8

Page Count: 720

Publisher: Doubleday

Review Posted Online: Dec. 22, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2015

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