In his debut novel, Anthony P. Geraci brings us an epic story of great scope, effortlessly placing us in 45 AD, the year 963 and the near future. The virgin of the title is of course the Virgin Mary, with her Letter part of the mystery we follow for two millennia. Geraci maintains both suspense and intriguing plot twists from beginning to end. After midnight, I didn’t especially want to continue reading about the pedophile bishop or evil Pope, but I could not put the book down!
Geraci is a masterful researcher, with each of his time periods vividly recreated, as are Rome, Avignon, New York City and other locales. We learn something of the history of the world’s oldest living institution, the Catholic Church, but its leaders are manipulating their message to obtain the greatest power for themselves. Church officials have forgotten their humanity and are as corrupt as any leaders in business, industry or politics.
Through dramatic situations and compelling characters, the author presents the spiritual world and divine inspiration as more real and legitimate than manmade laws. The dynamic women of the first two eras in the story move the plot forward as they try to be true to what they know is right, while opposing power-hungry men. Our final protagonist, a gay seminary student, is able to bridge both worlds, and is uniquely qualified to set things right and solve the mystery.
Geraci’s work is resonant of Taylor Caldwell, Dan Brown or even Indiana Jones. But this inventive and highly imaginative book is completely original. There’s both a satisfying ending as well as a surprising twist, and plenty of room for a sequel. Bring on the movie!