A world-shattering secret, the ire of the Catholic Church, a professor in mortal danger—no, it’s not The Da Vinci Code, but a pallid thriller on the mystery of reincarnation.
After Josh Ryder recovers from an almost fatal head injury, he finds he’s not been left with a neurological disorder (he’s had all the tests) but with a vivid recollection of being a pagan priest in fourth-century Rome. The visions are frightening experiences encroaching on his daily life, and so far the only help he’s gotten comes from the Phoenix Foundation, a New York group devoted to researching reincarnation. Josh and an associate travel on the Foundation’s behalf to Rome, where the tomb of a vestal virgin is being unearthed. The archeologists working the sight, Professors Rudolfo and Chase, have found the fabled memory stones, magic gems that enable the user to see his past lives (though considering the agony Josh experiences, and all the others seeking the Foundation’s help, it seems more a curse than a gift). Visiting the site, Josh has powerful flashbacks to his life as Julius and the tragic end of his lover Sabina, now mummified in the tomb. While Josh is in a tunnel, Rudolfo is shot and the memory stones are stolen, setting off a chain of events that lead Josh and Gabriella Chase (a young, attractive love interest) on a journey to discover the meaning of the stones. Back in New York, Josh is temporarily distracted by Rachel, a jewelry designer who lives with her uncle Alex (also obsessed with the idea of past lives) and is experiencing her own disconcerting episodes in which she is a 19th-century woman in mortal danger. Are Josh, Rachel, Rachel’s boyfriend Harrison, Julius, Sabina (and a few others) all connected? You bet they are, and conveniently they all live in New York. When Gabriella’s daughter is kidnapped by the stones’ new owner, Josh and Gabriella have but a few days to decipher the mantra that makes them work. A predictable “twist” at the end tops off a fairly unremarkable work that takes for granted that reincarnation is as dangerously exotic as the author thinks it is.
An unthrilling thriller from the usually dependable Rose (The Halo Effect, 2004, etc.).