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A struggling writer and a mysterious assassin take opposing sides in a race to discover a lost prophecy.

This European bestseller by Nostradamus expert Reading (The Complete Prophecies of Nostradamus, 2009, etc.) delves deep into the history of the famous French seer. But the novel’s literary merit and historical assessment don’t come at the cost of suspense and action. The novel opens in Paris, where Reading’s fictional doppelgänger—American writer Adam Sabir—is chasing down a flimsy Internet lead. A gypsy con artist and drug addict named Babel is teasing Sabir that he has possession of the lost prophecies of Michel de Nostradame, who completed 942 out of a planned 1,000 quatrains of his predictions. But before Sabir can ferret out the truth, the gypsy slices open his hand and marks Adam’s head with a bloody print. Following Babel’s mysterious clues—“Two words. Remember them. Samois. Chris.”—Sabir makes his way to Samois-sur-Seine, where he meets the Manouche gypsy tribe that protects their own. Babel, meanwhile, has been brutally murdered by the villainous Achor Bale, an assassin trained by his mother to protect the history that Nostradamus predicted. His mysterious organization is Corpus Maleficus, a cult trying to protect a Third Antichrist, a malevolent figure following Napoleon and Hitler. Hot on the trail of both is Joris Calque, a veteran police officer who’s trying to flush out the American fugitive and the body count from marking all of Europe. In a fascinating and tense exchange, Sabir is forced to undergo a risky gypsy trial called a Kriss, after which he finds himself responsible for Yola Semana, Babel’s unmarried sister. Together, Yola and Sabir head out across Europe to ferret out clues from a series of Black Madonna statues located in Europe’s most exotic cities, all while fleeing the deadly advances of Achor Bale.

While the story is more than satisfying for fans of the historical conspiracy game, Reading brings more nuance, substance and action to his well-told tale than one might expect.

Pub Date: Dec. 1st, 2010
ISBN: 978-0-312-64379-9
Page count: 368pp
Publisher: Dunne/St. Martin's
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15th, 2010


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