The Historian meets The Da Vinci Code in this exhilarating supernatural thriller set in Rome. Rival groups are searching for a document that holds a secret that could shatter the Catholic Church. While in Rome, American Jesuit priest Thomas Kelly is called upon to reclaim a centuries-old document stolen from the Vatican. An enigmatic letter leads him to the work of a 19th century poet, where Thomas discovers cryptic messages that might lead to the missing manuscript. His search is unexpectedly entwined with that of Italian art historian Livia Pietro, who tells him that destructive forces are threatening to expose the document’s contents. As they’re relentlessly chased through the heart of Rome by mysterious men who quickly demonstrate they would cross any line to obtain the document for themselves, it becomes clear to Livia and Thomas that the pages hold a deep, devastating, long-buried truth. Livia, though, has a secret of her own: she and her People are vampires. But all this pales in light of the Secret that Thomas and Livia discover together—a revelation more stunning than either could have imagined.
Blood of the Lamb by Sam Cabot is, first off, not what it seems. Sam Cabot is a pseudonym for S.J. Rozan and Carlos Dews, and the two writers combine their respective areas of interest in order to bring this story together. From the cover it appears to be a horror novel, when in reality it’s more of a religious/mystery story with elements of horror woven into the story. This book seems more likely to appeal to to readers who enjoy religious thrillers than stories about vampires, as the elements of the Church are much more prevalent.
In short, a Jesuit priest, Father Thomas Kelly and an art historian, Livia Pietro are not so much partnered as they are tossed together in order to to locate the Concordat, a document that was stolen from the Chuch. It’s claimed that the Concordat would be so damaging to the Church that it would doom the entire institution. Their search takes them across Rome as they follow clues left by Mario Damiani, a nineteenth-century poet who once stole the document. The ‘big deal’ is that this document was signed by Pope Martin and the Noantri, and it states that the Church will not persecute Noantri. In exchange for this immunity, they supported Martin during the time when he was in being considered for the position of Pope. The catch being, the Noantri aren’t just an especially tough gang, they’re vampires.
All of this is a lot to take in for a priest. While Father Kelly is undergoing something of a crisis of faith, confronted with those he characterizes as ‘spawn of Satan’ or ‘demonic,’ all of this does produce a number of discussions concerning faith, evil, and other topics. Livia Pietro and Father Kelly have these debates over dusty old papers, in between running around and trying to track down the Concordat.
Given the subject matter, the Church and vampires, this novel could have been much darker, and the story hangs on the different sides of morality as well as the matter of solving a mystery, rather than bloody action scenes. At some points, the search begins to feel like the characters are running back and forth aimlessly instead of moving the story forward, but that’s in keeping with both research and the genre, so that should be kept in mind.
Overall, considering the fact that the book is billed as more ‘horror’ than it turned out to be, it seems that readers would do well to know what they’re walking into, and if they would like less vampiric action and more religious angles and conversation than outright, this will likely be a good read.