Such was the scroll that Jack's parents had found, revealing a second messiah, a man who assumed the identity of Jesus, casting doubt on the narrative of the Bible. But Jack's parents were killed in an automobile accident shortly after the find. The scroll was burned up in the vehicle, or was it?
Now, years later, Jack is also an archaeologist and his group has found a controversial scroll. But that night a scholar is killed and the scroll stolen. Jack is determined to find the stolen scroll. He is “convinced that religion, history, everything could be changed by the scroll's contents.” (337)
At this same time a new Catholic Pope is chosen. He is a revolutionary. He refuses the gold-threaded gown and diamond encrusted papal hat. “In a world scourged by poverty, I should have no need of these expensive garments.” (412) He wants to open the archives of the Vatican and make all known.
These two story lines converge. Those surrounding the Pope are unsure of he is the church's deliverer or its traitor. What is more important to the Catholic Church – truth or protecting itself? And will Jack find the scroll and the truth before someone kills him?
Meade has written a pretty good novel of intrigue revolving around archeology and the deadly fight surrounding ancient scrolls and their contents. Meade is an Irish author and this may explain his emphasis on the Catholic Church needing to come clean, so to speak.
Evangelical Christians will be sorely disappointed in the Pope's final speech: “I want us to go forth in peace, to pronounce the brotherhood of all men, without exception of country, creed, or race, and in the belief in one God.” (474)
Also, Meade has been reading a different Bible than I do (perhaps a Catholic Bible). In his Author's Note he says, “As for the account of a second messiah, it has existed since the time of Jesus. Numerous references survive in Scripture...” (481) I am not familiar with any references so I have no idea what he is talking about here.
Howard, a division of Simon & Schuster, 481 pages.
I received an egalley of this book from Simon and Schuster for the purpose of this review.