The Magdalene Chronicles, Book 1

From the publisher:

For two thousand years, believers have relied on Christ’s Resurrection as the bedrock of Christian faith. But what if the Vatican had been blackmailed into suppressing a first-century manuscript revealing the Resurrection to be a myth—and that long-hidden document suddenly reappears?

Michael Dominic, a young Jesuit priest expert in the study of ancient writings, is assigned to the Vatican as an archivist in the Church’s legendary Secret Archives. Hana Sinclair, a reporter for a Paris newspaper whose privileged family owns a prominent Swiss bank, is chasing a story about Jewish gold stolen by the Nazis during World War II—millions of dollars in bullion that ended up in the vaults of the Vatican Bank.

When Dominic discovers a long-hidden papyrus written by Mary Magdalene—one that threatens the very foundations of Christianity—he and Hana try to prevent sinister forces from obtaining the manuscript, among them the feared Ustasha underground fascist movement, Interpol, and shadowy figures in the highest levels of the Vatican itself.

Based on illuminating historical facts—including the intriguing true story of Bérenger Saunière, the mysterious abbé of Rennes-le-Château, and the Cathars, fabled keepers of the Holy Grail—“The Magdalene Deception” will take readers on a gripping journey through one of the world’s most secretive institutions and the sensitive, often explosive manuscripts found in its vaults.

Michael Dominic, an American Jesuit priest is a well-prepared expert on ancient writings who has been assigned to work at the Vatican in Rome. His expertise to be used in the categorization of documents stored which have not been classified as of yet. His assignment would have him assigned to the special Vatican secret archives section. At the same time Hana Sinclair, a reporter for a Paris newspaper and whose family owns a prominent Swiss bank is working on a story about Jewish gold stolen by the Nazis during World War II. Millions of this gold look as if it was stored in the vaults of the Vatican bank.

Michael’s searches lead him to the discovery of a document that may have been written by Mary Magdalene. In his investigations to translate and carbon date the document as well as authenticating its source, he is thrown together with Hana through her cousin, who is a Swiss Guard. The Swiss guard are specially assigned to guard the Pope and protect the Vatican. Hana’s story causes both her and Michael to also solicit and obtain the expertise of a Jewish writer who has special permission to use the Vatican library for his own investigations.

McAvoy, in addition to writing a mesmerizing novel, provides descriptions of the inside of Vatican City. His explanations of Michael’s expertise in investigating ancient writings and the work of the Church hierarchy are well delineated and indicate a good deal of research into the subject matter. The selection and training of the dedicated Swiss Guard is treated and is the first time that I have read anything about this unique group. Michael and Hana develop feelings for each other in the course of their investigations and McAvoy does not shy away from discussing Michael’s ambivalent approach to this subject.

The ending of the book solves the immediate problems of investigating the document written by Mary Magdalene and handling the transfer of millions in gold bullion to groups that are seeking to identify and reimburse families that have legitimate claims to it. It also sets up problems that will require the attention of the protagonists introduced in this novel and have them work together again.

7/2020 Paul Lane

THE MAGDALENE DECEPTION by Gary McAvoy. Literati Editions (May 26, 2020). ISBN: 978-0990837657. 368 pages.


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