Map of Bones is proof that you can write a Catholic mystery novel steeped in the arcane history of the Church its reliquaries and those things held sacred by Catholics all over the world. James Rollins manages to spin a exciting and relentless page turner that is smart, well researched and well written. The science in Map of Bones is real as is the history and the historic works referenced. The fiction is marvelously well written and while taking poetic liberties with the relics of the Church.

The story starts with a bold assault on The Shrine of the Three Kings in Cologne cathedral and the murder of the entire congregation. All that is taken though are the bones of the Magi – not the solid gold reliquary – none of the other treasures of the church, only the bones. The Catholic Church springs into action, yes they can do that, by calling on Rachel Verona is an investigator for the Italian Arma dei Carabinieri. Her uncle Vigor Verona is a priest in the Catholic Church and a specialist in the history of the Church. Thrown into the mix is a super secret American special force called SIGMA and their operatives lead by Grayson Pierce.

The reader is given an entertaining and engaging history of Catholicism, Gnosticism and the Gospel of St. Thomas. Of course at the heart of the story is the twelfth century schism between the orthodox and Gnostic traditions. The intrigue is made all the more pressing when it is discovered that the relics being stolen are being stolen by a particularly brutal Gnostic group which seeks to literally take control of the world. The only thing standing between them and world domination are the Catholic Church and SIGMA.

James Rollins has out done himself with this second SIGMA novel. It is exciting, literate and an easy read. This is a must add to the library of any adventure mystery fan.

James Rollins
Map Of Bones
560 pages
Publisher: Avon – Reprint edition (April 25, 2006)

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