Keep the code, scratch da Vinci.
It’s 1291, and in Jerusalem, the Knights of the Templar—long allied to the established church—are taking a pasting from the Saracens. The Grand Master Templar, seeing the handwriting on the wall, summons trusted aides, and places in their care an unassuming little item containing metaphoric dynamite. Flash forward 700-plus years to the Metropolitan Museum of Art. It’s the fancy opening of a special exhibit: Treasures of the Vatican. Crashing the event are four marauders on horseback, wearing iron clothing and masquerading as Knights of the Templar. They gallop up the steps of the Met clearly intent on larceny—of a particular kind, it turns out, when they ignore the sumptuous array of glittering prizes in favor of a gadget described in the catalogue as a “multigeared rotor encoder.” Lovely, feisty Tess Chaykin, an archaeologist, is witness to the curious events. Her interest changes from mild to near-obsessive as she continues to ponder implications: If an encoder is so urgently sought, she reasons, it follows that somewhere there’s a really big-time code in need of breaking. Enter stalwart, semi-hunk FBI counter-terrorism expert Sean Reilly, who is equally struck. And more than a little struck by Tess as well. Now enter the bad guys—chief among them a rogue archaeologist with an unquenchable hate for organized religion, and his opposite number, a Catholic priest with ninja-type moves. The game’s afoot, a humongous mystery needs to be solved, and at the center of it is a certain Jeshua of Nazareth, carpenter, who kept a meticulously detailed personal journal, and who may or may not have been “just a man.”
A mostly implausible first novel.