The Heresy by Stephen Marley

The Heresy by Stephen Marley
Publisher: Musa Publishing
Genre: Contemporary, Suspense/Mystery
Length: Full Length (315 Pages)
Rating: 4 Stars
Reviewed by Cyclamen

We are alone in the universe, but the universe is not alone.

Rome, September, 1978

Pope John Paul I is found dead in his bedroom. No autopsy is performed.

The body of a young nun is discovered near the Vatican. The verdict, death by poisoning.

Present Day

Dominic Quinn returns to Ireland to attend his father’s funeral. His sole inheritance, a mystery dating back two thousand years. His only clues, a few enigmatic words that others would prefer stay buried – at any cost.

Surrounded by lethal enemies, Dominic is drawn into the shadowy world of Vatican covert operations. He travels to Rome to unravel the secrets of a first-century manuscript, reputedly written by the Virgin Mary. What he finds will challenge everything he thought he knew about his past, his faith, and the nature of the universe itself.

And, in an unexcavated area of the necropolis beneath the Vatican, the evil that pursues him will clash head on with the divine.

Dominic Quinn returns to Ireland for his father’s funeral but before he knows it, he is caught up in a two thousand year old mystery. Dominic lost his faith when he found his parish priest raping his best friend, Colin. Dominic had rescued Colin, but then Dominic was sent to New York, accused by many of causing the priest’s death. No wonder he lost his faith. But he came back to bury his father and discovers that his father had kept a journal about religious matters, specifically a heretical group called the Collyridians and a first-century manuscript supposedly written by the Virgin Mary.

Suddenly Dominic finds himself involved with Vatican covert operations. Stephen Marley has written a gripping mystery novel full of suspense and intrigue. Dominic learns family history that turns his world upside-down. He is re-united with a girl he’d fallen in love with but lost track of earlier in his life. He sees visions and meanwhile, assassins hired by the insane Monsignor Chavet chase him through several countries. The pace never slows.

In addition to the fast-paced thriller, this novel is also filled with early church history and ancient science, especially concerning time and other dimensions. I found the philosophical discussions to be fascinating. Dominic realizes that modern physics regards “the cosmos as more like a vast thought than a mighty machine. Why was it so incredible that a woman, two thousand years past, with the immense resources of the Library of Alexandria, should have passed beyond the matter myth and bridged the infinite worlds of superspace, each world closer than his own breath?” Later on, Rachel adds to these thoughts with those of her own. “And, above all, there was the doctrine that Mary had never truly died. The Catholic Church hailed it as the assumption; the Orthodox Church, the dormition; the Collyridians, the Indwelling. What would it be like, in reality, to encounter a being who had bypassed death, twenty centuries ago, and moved in unseen worlds?”

Marley’s characters are well-developed and believable. I really liked Dominic, Rachel, and many of the supporting characters, and I found the villains to be terrifyingly real. The settings are vivid, putting the reader right in Ireland or Rome. And the ecclesiastical mystery is well plotted with a lot of research into ancient science and theology. Marley does juggle a lot of threads with the action so that the reader is constantly being shifted from one point of view to another. At first, I found this a bit jarring, but soon, it just seemed to be the only way to tell this intricate story. And the depth of the arguments over the Seventy-Ninth heresy were incredibly interesting.

Mystery readers who enjoy a spine-tingling thriller with an historical basis will certainly find The Heresy to be a gripping and engaging read.

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