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by Steve Berry

Pub Date: Feb. 28th, 2006
ISBN: 0-345-47615-8
Publisher: Ballantine

Good knights and bad knights chase each other around southwestern France in yet another tale of Sensational Untold Christian Revelation.

Berry’s The Third Secret (2005) dished up a papal suicide and some direct transmissions from the Virgin Mary at Fatima in 1917. Further papal nastiness figures in this take on the Knights Templar, a now-vanished but once vastly rich and dangerously powerful order that went from a gang of nine protectors of medieval pilgrims to one having near control of Western Europe. Their downfall came when craven Pope Clement V bowed to the will of his owner, France’s King Henri IV, whose eye was on the great pile of Templar loot. With a nod from the pope to leaders of the Inquisition, the knights were disinherited, dismissed and, in some cases, flambéed. But did they really vanish? Their loot never made it into the royal coffers. Could they in this day and age be holed up in the shadow of the Pyrenees, disguised as simple 20th-century monks? And could their billions of euros in gold, jewelry and objets religieux be far away? Danish billionaire Henrik Thorvaldsen, among others, ponders this question. His late friend Lars Nelle got many readers to consider the possibilities when he published scholarly novels about the mysteries of Rennes-le-Château, a burg in the Languedoc with its share of secrets. Now Nelle’s estranged widow Stephanie, a Department of Justice attorney, has received tantalizing information that brings her to Copenhagen, home of her dashing former employee, bookseller Cotton Malone. Before the two erstwhile associates have even said hello, a Knight Templar snatches Stephanie’s backpack and slits his own throat. This is just the first of many encounters between the good Americans and the evil Templar Raymond de Roquefort, all of which lead to stunning secrets about the central Christian mystery.

A long, tortuous journey to an unsurprising, though thoughtful, end.