Rituals and initiations are at the heart of this novel as the authors take us within the present time period and one in the distant past. Both are linked together and focus on murder related to the Freemans today and an organization that is similar in the past called the Aurora. As you enter the room where the initiation is to take place we meet the man called the torturer as he wields his sword over the body of the man interrogated and scoured and left for dead. Within the past we learn about a Jewish man that is being burned at the stake in order to get a young lady to reveal what she knows about a missing or mysterious book. The time period is the 14th century France, and the character is called the torturer and is told to write down the words of the young woman and present them to the King. However, ironic although this man can kill he cannot read and enlists the help of a scribe in order to be able to relate what the young lady says during her interrogation. The murders in the Freemason Lodge are caused by a man calling himself the Sword of Light and were initiating a man into the order but the man gave him the wrong answer and this was no initiation. He in turn killed another member of the order who was in a wheelchair and a close friend of our French Police Detective and the main character in this novel.
Antoine Marcas enters the room to check on the person about to become part of the Freemasons to find him dead along with his lifelong friend Paul in his wheelchair. As a police detective attending this ceremony at the Lodge in Paris, finding the body of this man starts a chain of events that leads us back in time as he finds Paul’s body too.
Going back to the past you hear the voice of the executioner and the sounds of the crowd that can’t wait for the prisoner to be brought out and killed. They hope for the worst torture and the reason for his death has yet to be revealed as he is a banker but the King’s bank cannot be fixed but Jews are smart and know more than most and hopefully he will set the bar to make the young lady speak up.
Learning about the connection to gold and the Aurora Source as the authors share the rising value of gold and then revert back to the past as the torturer takes aim at a young girl whose mother sold her into prostitution to save herself. As Antoine heads to the tunnels he is trapped by the killer of the two Freemason members and the chamber fills with water as it rises. Thinking he was going to drown he never expected to wake up in a hospital but not before he learns that this killer is a Freemason brother of a higher ranking or order and who might have taken an oath of vengeance related to one of the three Higher Degrees. Reading the documents and learning about each type of degree Antoine learns how each one has a type of vengeance related to it as the author has Flore, the young girl being tortured explain more about the link to the gold but that does not stop what happens next. Explaining that the Jewish man Isaac was an alchemist and dealt with the metal gold, the torturer does not believe what he hears until she relates information about the book. In a letter sent to Antoine from Paul after his death he is told about this Lafayette Sword that is stolen from the museum at the time of the murders where the initiation was being held. Secrets involving those that were part of Lafayette’s family and alchemy.
Nicholas Flamel is the scribe whose services have been enlisted to take down everything Flore says in order for the torturer to bring it back to the King who requests a record of the questioning of this young girl. But, since he cannot write or read he enlists the help of this scribe who is threatened before he even starts if he flinches or speaks in the wrong direction. Hoping that she will reveal where the Book of Adam is but having to watch what this man does is terrifying and repulsive. Haunted by the visions of what the torturer did to the young girl and unable to sleep at night or function at times during the day the disturbing thoughts cloud his mind and Nicholas wants to enact his own form of revenge.
The torturer is at home contemplating his next move and he decided his next move as he opened the pages of the Book of Adam and contemplated its worth and whether to burn it or not as Nicholas came to his door trying to explain his fears, his nightmares and unrest. As the torturer deals with his words you realize that nothing he can say will make him compassionate or understanding of how he feels nor does he care for the welfare of the young girl he claims he sent back to his family as we go to the present. Marcus is with the General Secretary and a revelation is made about the sword stolen from the museum. When the killer learns he stole the wrong one will he come after Layette’s sword and kill again? Interspersed we learn more about the price of gold, the Kuwait Project and another character that comes into play as a gold mercenary Jack Winthrop and we learn more about how he gets the gold and sells it. But, something changes it all in the past as the torturer is murdered and Nicholas is brought in for questioning. As Antoine takes his son to the movies and the killer finds his way inside and threatens him if he does not reveal the inscription on the sword. The ceremonial sword is what he stole the real one Antoine held in his own hands.
All of this leads to gold and the alchemists that are producing their own brand and hopefully Antoine will close in on a killer that is one of his own. With the help of the Grand Secretary he is led to an expert in New York that has information about Layette and his involvement during the American Revolution. Here were also clues to the sword Lafayette had used during the American Revolution. Antoine figures out the clues and finds the sword. On the blade has an inscription that is another clue to something in New York City. While at a movie theater with his son, Antoine is approached by the killer who threatens Antoine’s son unless he tells what was on the sword. From this point on, Antoine and the murderer are in a race to discover the secret behind the clues, and for Antoine to catch the murderer. As the grand expert for the night’s Freeman initiation ceremony he never expected to enter the chamber and find so much blood. But, who among them is on the 9th degree and who among his fellow masons might be the killer?
The theme of the novel is based on the greed of so many in the past and the present for the power of pure gold in their possession. Marcas is torn between his allegiance to the Freemasons and the desire for greed, power and murder as this goes against what they stand for but the authors also bring in the link to the Knights of Templar. The history of gold, the value and how someone tells the number of carats comes into play as Antoine comes in the company of someone who understands the value of the different types of gold and then learns that the bodies of the Freemasons were filled with some type of gold. The end result would be the purest of thousands of gold that no one would ever want to relinquish and the Aurora group is hoping to create for him or her as Jack Winthrop is called upon to do another mission.
Flamel’s wife is concerned about the police questioning him and the fact that he has been told to write down the facts about the murdered Torturer as the medical examiner relates what he sees. She goes down into the basement or tunnel of their house to see what secrets lie there that she might need to learn to protect her husband. Things are not what they seem as Antoine goes to New York to meet someone who might have the information he needs to find the killer but can he trust her? Hearing her talk with someone lets you know that she has her own agenda in mind and the someone is following him from the Aurora group hoping to stop him from learning more about the link to gold. As Flamel is questioned even more and the next person takes over the case things will take on a darker complexion both in the past and the present. Flamel created a journal of his journey where he traveled from who helped him to survive and then finding his wife and creating the gold that would be the death of so many in the present. While Maracas was duped by Joan his link to the killer little did he know that he would become trapped in the same horrific web as two people would lose their lives as this killer wants to rid the of those that are not worthy. While the killer taunts Marcas the Aurora Group is on the same quest to take him down as they both meet and converge but the killer is sharp and might be a few steps ahead. Andre Surgens is the head of the Aurora group and Edmond Canseleit would decide how to proceed regarding the gold that the killer wanted for himself and how Maracas would come into play to help stop him. The Book of Adam holds the key to what this killer wants in the present and why a man was killed in the past and what torturers were done to Flore. The book disappeared again during Flamel’s lifetime. Four people of different descendants received four parts of what comprised the gold and how to create it. Flamel found the secret of the philosopher’s stone, the secrete to transform metal into extremely pure gold which is the theme and the reason behind what both killers were after in both time periods. An ending quite unexpected as all of the players come to one place and lives will be sacrificed, lost and will the killer get what he wants or will Marcas be able to stop him? The history of the Freemasons is replete and quite interesting as final shot is fired before the fate of the Lafayette Sword is known. Authors Eric Giamcometti and Jacques Ravenne struck pure gold this time when creating this outstanding series with a believable character that you want to see more of.
Fran Lewis: Just Reviews/MJ magazine