The Rock of Magus is the second book in The Jotham Fletcher Mystery Thriller Series.
I would love to read your reviews.
The Rock of Magus
A Religious Conspiracy Thriller – Code Red in the Vatican
A CRISIS IS BREWING IN THE VATICAN – AND ONLY ONE MAN CAN PREVENT DISASTER…
Jotham Fletcher returns in a race against time that takes him deep inside the Vatican. Cardinal Alpheus has ambitions far more sinister and explosive than anyone could imagine, and the death of Pope Linus is only the beginning.
Jotham is now a billionaire, dedicated to finding the Simonian Sect and he employs Madena, a former army officer, to help him. They rescue a televangelist in Seattle but find the photograph of a man who is soon elected as the new Pope, with Alpheus as his chief advisor.
The deadly Brotherhood re-emerges with Father Dominic at the helm. Jotham becomes the prime suspect in the murder of a cleric in Spain and the unwitting hero after a devastating event in Rome. He has a secret that he dare not reveal and is on the run from the police once again. But nothing prepares him for the final confrontation at the Pope’s summer retreat.
FEATURING: a fast-paced and gripping plot, chase sequences, murder and political intrigue in the Vatican, and a love story like no other.
Don’t miss this action-packed thriller! Discover why it’s Code Red in the Vatican.
“THIS COULD MAKE A GREAT ACTION-PACKED CRIME THRILLER MOVIE. FASCINATING. A VERY EASY RATING OF 5 STARS.”
Three other books in this series are also available. Enjoy Jotham Fletcher’s continuing story.
Book 1: THE MAGUS COVENANT – The secret that will change the world
Book 3: THE MAGUS EPIPHANY – Ancient treasures and a new revelation
Book 4: HOLY SPEAR OF MAGUS – The covenant will be fulfilled
Articles about THE ROCK OF MAGUS
Read an excerpt from THE ROCK OF MAGUS
– Here is the first chapter –
The Vatican Palace was built in the Renaissance to the north of St Peter’s Basilica and the vast papal bedroom was decorated in a style befitting a Medici prince. There was red brocade wallpaper, elaborate antique furniture and an intricate marble floor, but Pope Linus looked around the room and felt as if he were in a prison. He had been given a life sentence and only death would secure his release.
The workaholic pontiff had influenza and he had been ordered to stay in bed for two full days. “You will only become worse unless you rest, I can promise you that,” said the best physician in Rome. “You are only to be disturbed on the most urgent and important matters.”
The old man was propped up, supported by four feather pillows covered in the finest white linen. His valet was far too attentive and forced him to drink some cough medicine and a hot lemon drink. “My mother’s recipe, it will help you to have a good night’s sleep,” he said.
The head of the worldwide Catholic Church looked at him with a weary smile. “Yes, Pierre, whatever you say. I am your humble servant.”
As the valet removed the tray, he heard a gentle knock on the door. “Who would be here at this hour?” he asked.
“Come in,” called Linus, loud enough to be heard despite his hoarse voice.
The heavy door opened wide so that he could see the two Swiss Guards who stayed there all night to keep him safe. They were dressed in their everyday blue uniforms, a simplified version of the famous tricolour outfits.
Cardinal Alpheus took one step inside the room and genuflected, lowering his sixty-year-old right knee as far as he could so that the gold pectoral cross around his neck almost touched the ground. He was dressed in a black cassock with red trim and buttons and a wide red fascia around his waist. His bald spot was covered by the red zucchetta, a skullcap that contrasted with his dyed black hair.
“Good evening, Your Holiness,” he said with a soft Canadian accent that belied his mental toughness. “I have your new decree to sign.”
Pierre lowered his eyes and scurried out of the room like a frightened mouse.
“Come in Alpheus and bring it over. That’s very good news,” said the Pope and followed that with a raucous cough.
The Swiss Guards shut the door with crisp efficiency and left them alone.
“I hope you’re feeling better.”
“Not yet, but Pierre is plying me with hot drinks. I’m sure they’ll kill or cure me. He tells me that I’ll be like a new man after a good night’s sleep.”
The cardinal forced a grin across his weasel face and presented the Pope with a leather-bound document. “New ways of including women in church leadership: a wonderful idea, Holy Father.”
Pope Linus ignored his compliment and flipped through the pages to check that last-minute changes had been included in the final copy. “The pen please, and then it’s bedtime.”
The cardinal was holding a Tibaldi fountain pen, the perfect tool for a papal signature. But he ignored the request to hand it over and placed it on the mahogany bedside table. Taking one deep breath for courage, he grabbed the pillow under the old man’s head and flicked it out from under him.
In one deft movement, he placed it over the Pope’s bewildered face and pushed it down with all his might.
Alpheus was strong and fit. His feeble victim passed out after thirty seconds. He held it down for another ten minutes until shafts of pain flashed down his arms all the way to his fingertips.
There was no movement underneath the pillow and the body was limp. He knew that Pope Linus was dead, so it was time to do his finest handiwork.
The cardinal caught his breath as he arranged the document and pen on the bedside table. He placed the pillow in its rightful place beneath the Pope’s head as if the last fifteen minutes had never happened. He shut the man’s eyes so that he appeared to be asleep and manipulated the features until his face looked as if he was at peace.
Linus had the kind and gentle expression that everyone loved so much. Such a popular figure, so good and intelligent. There would be so many tears when people heard about his death.
He walked to the door, turned the handle and opened it just wide enough to slip out of the room and push it shut behind him. “The Pope has fallen sound asleep,” he said to the two guards. “There was no chance to sign the document so I left it there for him to deal with when he wakes up. Be careful not to disturb him. Let him rest all night and in the morning he will feel much better. Have a good night.”
“Thank you, Your Eminence,” they said, almost in unison as he retreated down the hallway.
Jotham Fletcher had been an Anglican priest in Australia, but he had left that behind more than a year ago. He missed the work of caring for his own parish, but he had a new purpose in life that was far more important.
He inherited Iago Visser’s fortune and became an instant billionaire. Money was no longer an object and it took a short while to grow accustomed to that. Two weeks later, after resigning from the ministry that he loved, he ran to the top of Mount Ainslie and looked down at the stunning vista of Canberra. That was when it struck him that he could never return to his former life. His new job was to hunt down the Simonian Sect and stop the Brotherhood.
The secret sect of Simon Magus had survived for over two thousand years, a cult with its own belief system. They were alive and well around the world, intent on destroying the Christian Church.
Even worse were the Catholic Brotherhood who would stop at nothing in their hunt for the same organisation. The Italian police, the Caribinieri, told Jotham that Pope Linus did not support the group and they were disbanded after the arrest of the leader, Father Dominic. But he did not believe they had completely disappeared.
He retired from his role as the rector of St John the Baptist Anglican Church, but did not reveal the reason for his hasty departure. So far, neither group seemed to know about his inheritance or what had become of him. He led a secret life and kept his profile as low as possible, with only a few employees who knew about his work.
Jotham needed a partner to help him and Madena Sutcliffe was the best candidate for the job. His eyes opened wide as he read her resume. She gained an economics degree and an MBA from the University of Oxford. Then she spent five years in the British Army, becoming highly skilled at what she liked to call covert operations.
A very expensive and unique recruitment agency had managed to find her and he interviewed her in London. It was clear from the start that they would work well together. If he had stayed in Canberra, close to the graves of his wife and baby, he would never have met her.
Now she was his fitness advisor, security advisor and financial advisor. He paid her very well and she shared his passion and dedication. She would stay and help him, so long as he kept his true feelings to himself and their relationship was destined to remain strictly professional.
It was Madena’s idea to investigate the staff close to well-known televangelists in America. It could help them uncover a possible link with the Simonian Sect if any anomalies were found. Jotham had the financial resources to fund background checks on hundreds of people and most of the employees seemed to be legitimate.
But one young woman who worked for a preacher in Seattle had appeared to spring from nowhere. Further checks revealed that there was one girl on the Missing Persons Register with remarkably similar facial features. She had run away from her home in Chicago at the age of fifteen and there had been no trace of her since then.
That was the sort of vulnerable person that the sect found easy to attract and indoctrinate. If it was the same girl, then she had been given a name change and a new identity.
Jotham and Madena resolved to head to Seattle and see what they could uncover.
The cold night air reminded Jotham that he was standing outside in Washington State in the middle of summer. Not that he could forget, since he had been sheltering for the last hour behind a thick hedge in a small suburban park that was packed with fir, pine and spruce trees.
He was observing a house directly across the street. The humble timber cottage was in one of the poorest parts of Issaquah, seventeen miles east of Seattle. It was surrounded by rhododendrons and there were no lights visible, as if no one were home.
Madena Sutcliffe was an arm’s length away from him. “Do you want to approach and see what we can see?” she said with a British accent honed at one of the best public schools in Berkshire.
“Definitely,” said Jotham. “I’ll freeze if I don’t move soon. Let’s go.” His clear and steady voice hid the nervous tremor he could feel in his throat.
The duo sprinted across the deserted road, both tall and slim and dressed from top to toe in black. Madena said that made them invisible in the dark, as if they were empty space. He hoped that was true.
They slid into the shelter of the rhododendrons to the right of the shabby front door. Jotham took the lead as they crawled around the house and stopped to listen at every window.
“There are heavy blackout curtains all the way around,” whispered Madena. “No wonder we can’t see any light.”
Less than a second later, they heard the unmistakable sound of rustling leaves.
END OF CHAPTER ONE
Thank you for stopping by. You can find out more about my books here.
Follow Toni Pike online at:
Instagram: @authorlovestravel – Every day, I share one exciting place around the world that I’ve visited, so please join me.
Facebook: Toni Pike – Author
Twitter: @piketoni1 Toni Pike
Linkedin Toni Pike – Linkedin
Text and Image copyright © 2016 Toni Pike – All Rights Reserved