The Brotherhood of the Holy Shroud.
Were I to start feeling “guilty” for any of my literary pleasures, it would be my love for nerd-thrillers of the lost manuscript/secret society variety. And yet, I refuse to read The DaVinci Code which, if not directly inspiring a lot of the books I’ve enjoyed, at least made a pretty big market for them.
So, anyhow, I was in the library a few weeks ago and looking for some light reading to bring with me on the plane to Indiana. I picked up this one because it looked like it fit the bill for “secrets of the past lead to a mystery of the present” kind of novel. I also picked up another one of the same genre which was so horribly cheesy that I couldn’t bear to read any more of it past the first 60 pages even though I was stuck on an airplane.
I love it when serendipity leads me to great books and this is absolutely one of the best nerd-thrillers I’ve ever read. Ever. It’s perfectly paced: it never speeds up or slows down. The historical chapters, if not totally accurate, are totally plausible. There is no clear morality presented: no “us” versus “them” or “good” versus “evil” can be drawn from the various factions in the book. The conflicts that do exist happened out of historical coincidence, not any malicious attempts at power-grabbing. Yes, there are conspiracies, including everybody’s favorite: THE KNIGHTS TEMPLAR. Holy cow do those guys make for good fiction. They’re so perfect: rich, power hungry, religious. Man, I love them.
As an aside: I do tend to love fiction centered on Christian history and theology. And yet, I’m a Buddhist. Go fig. I think it’s probably because a lot of it tends to be really smart in terms of plot development and let’s face it, here in the West, there’s a great market for it whereas Eastern religious thrillers would probably be like “Someone stole the Buddha’s tree… and then prayed under it. And then we had some sushi.” or something. Nothing like a religion with a history of crusading to bring the thrills and chills.
So, yes. Knights Templar. And a secret ancient Christian society. Good fun. Most notably, even for all of the investigation that takes place in the novel, in the end the secrets that are uncovered are totally moot as neither organization committed a prosecutable crime. The book ends with the world exactly in the state that it was in when it began. Nothing is resolved.
And yet, it is one of the BEST absolute BEST thrillers I’ve ever read. Clearly, it wasn’t written by an American if it has no good v. evil or resolvable plot. Obviously. Our collective consciousness requires clear battle lines and an obvious linear progression. We’re not terribly sophisticated. Oh well.
Anyhow. Awesome book. And I’m definitely going to get her other book, The Bible of Clay, from the library as soon as I’m done with the fourhundred other books I just started reading last night.