In his first-ever collaboration, New York Times bestselling author James Rollins combines his skill for cutting-edge science and historical mystery with award-winning novelist Rebecca Cantrell's talent for haunting suspense and sensual atmosphere in a gothic tale about an ancient order and the hunt for a miraculous book known only as . . . The Blood Gospel
An earthquake in Masada, Israel, kills hundreds and reveals a tomb buried in the heart of the mountain. A trio of investigators—Sergeant Jordan Stone, a military forensic expert; Father Rhun Korza, a Vatican priest; and Dr. Erin Granger, a brilliant but disillusioned archaeologist—are sent to explore the macabre discovery, a subterranean temple holding the crucified body of a mummified girl.
But a brutal attack at the site sets the three on the run, thrusting them into a race to recover what was once preserved in the tomb's sarcophagus: a book rumored to have been written by Christ's own hand, a tome that is said to hold the secrets to His divinity. The enemy who hounds them is like no other, a force of ancient evil directed by a leader of impossible ambitions and incalculable cunning.
From crumbling tombs to splendorous churches, Erin and her two companions must confront a past that traces back thousands of years, to a time when ungodly beasts hunted the dark spaces of the world, to a moment in history when Christ made a miraculous offer, a pact of salvation for those who were damned for eternity.
Here is a novel that is explosive in its revelation of a secret history. Why do Catholic priests wear pectoral crosses? Why are they sworn to celibacy? Why do the monks hide their countenances under hoods? And why does Catholicism insist that the consecration of wine during Mass results in its transformation to Christ's own blood? The answers to all go back to a secret sect within the Vatican, one whispered as rumor but whose very existence was painted for all to see by Rembrandt himself, a shadowy order known simply as the Sanguines.
In the end, be warned: some books should never be found, never opened—until now.
Q. How did you two meet?
Rebecca: I used to live in Hawaii, and Jim was my instructor at the Maui Writer’s Retreat where I was workshopping a thriller. My first novel, A Trace of Smoke, had been accepted for publication a few weeks before and he kindly agreed to give me my first blurb. It was so good, I printed and hung it above my writing desk until it got covered in gecko poop. Then I took it down. Sorry about the poop, Jim.
Q. The Blood Gospel is a bit of a deviation from the books that both of you are traditionally known for. What inspired the idea for this book?
James: This book came about from viewing Rembrandt’s painting of "The Raising of Lazarus." It struck me strange how scared everyone looked, and this started me down a road of reflection about early Catholicism, vampirism, and a story began to unfold. I knew this could be a huge, ground-breaking new mythology, a story so epic in scope that I knew I didn’t want to tackle this alone.
Rebecca: Jim called to ask me if I was interested in collaborating on a project. The premise and the world were so intriguing and controversial, I said yes immediately.
Q. Both of you are well known authors in your own right; how did you learn to collaborate?
Rebecca: We went back and forth a lot while trying to decide what would be fun and interesting for both of us. Since we’re two people, more ideas come out and the books end up going in a direction I don’t think either of us would have found on our own. Luckily, he’s very open and easy to work with and has never once said “that’s the stupidest idea ever,” because I think you need to feel safe to throw out any idea at the beginning and see what sticks.
James: It’s one of the best things about collaboration: we each bring a unique skill set to the table. Scenes where I know I perhaps am more deft (i.e. action), I handle. Likewise, Becky’s skill at characterization and atmospheric historical descriptions, I let her run with it. That said, then we each take each other’s work and tweak it in new and surprising ways that neither of us could have done alone.
Q. Could vampires have been or be real?
Rebecca: Our series plays with the idea that vampires are and always have been a myth, but the myth is based on some truth—that strigoi have always existed within and without the Church and their bloody crimes have formed the basis of the vampire myth.
James: It was interesting how many of the Church’s trappings (hooded robes, crosses, celibate priests, and the rite of turning wine into Christ’s blood) could be directly folded into the vampire mythology. It makes you wonder if the Church isn’t keeping something secret about a mythology that has existed for millennia.
Q. Can fans expect to find elements of science in this series?
James: With a scientific background in biology, I wanted to instill into the mythology how vampirism might be possible, how such creatures could live among us, how they could survive without beating hearts, why silver would be toxic to them. The goal of this book was to explore the line between faith and science, so that meant exploring a scientific and historical rationalization for the existence of vampires.