A downed World War II bomber is unearthed, launching a competitive search for a biblical secret that pits science against faith and threatens to bring down the Catholic Church.
In a time-hopping adventure that’s part Indiana Jones and part Da Vinci Code, this latest supernatural mystery from Slade (Kamikaze, 2006, etc.) pits a sinister papal representative, the Legionary of Christ, against lawyer-historian-and-bestselling author Wyatt Rook and his new partner Liz Hannah, the sexy granddaughter of that lost bomber’s pilot. The goal is to solve the mystery of why the British bomber was sent on a strange mission at the height of the war, and why that same bomber was hunted down over Berlin. At stake are the clues that will unravel the mystery of Judas Iscariot, a hidden Nazi traitor, and possibly the future of mankind. But while the quest is far-fetched, Slade handles the balancing act well, drawing us first into the character of that bomber crew and then of Rook and Hannah, with believable dialogue and lots of bloody action. The figure of the Legionary remains unreal—he’s the most otherworldly character—but that’s a forgivable flaw as the adventures start churning. Less forgivable is Slade’s tendency to overexplain everything, from the crew’s nicknames to the inner workings of the church; when a character’s thoughts are noted as “subconscious” the addition of “unbeknown…even to himself” is overkill. If Slade had trusted his readers to make their own connections, some of the bigger plot stretches—such as the comparison between the bomber crew and Jesus’s disciples—would have worked better, too. Still, as far as historical, Vatican-connected occult thrillers go, this is a fun one, with the various timelines balanced to play off each other with verve.
Overwriting takes the edge off the horror and slows the pace of what should be a nonstop thriller.