Book Review: The Shroud Key by Vincent Zandri

Shroud Key

Chase Baker is not only a true Renaissance Man, he’s a man who knows how to find trouble. A part-time resident of Florence, Italy, his resume reads like a modern day Da Vinci or Casanova. Writer, private investigator, tour guide, historian, treasure hunter, adventurer, and even archaeological sandhog, Chase is also a prolific lover. Unfortunately for him, his dangerous liaisons all too often make him the target of a jealous husband. Now, at the direct request of the Florence police, he finds himself on the trail of an archaeologist by the name of Dr. Andre Manion who’s gone missing from his teaching post at the American University. But having worked for the archaeologist several years ago as a sandhog on a secret but failed dig just outside the Great Pyramids in the Giza Plateau, Chase smells a renewed opportunity to uncover what just might be the most prized archaeological treasure in the world: The mortal remains of Jesus. But how will Chase Baker go about finding both the archaeologist and the Jesus Remains? With the help of Manion’s beautiful ex-wife, Chase will manage to secure an up-close and personal examination of the Shroud of Turin, not only to view the famous image of the crucified Christ, but to unlock the relic’s greatest secret which is none other than a map, or a key, detailing the precise location of Jesus’s body. Fans of Dan Brown, Clive Cussler and JR Rain will find The Shroud Key an irresistible adventure.

About The Author
Vincent ZandriVincent Zandri is the No. 1 International Bestselling Amazon author of THE INNOCENT, GODCHILD, THE REMAINS, MOONLIGHT FALLS, THE CONCRETE PEARL, MOONLIGHT RISES, SCREAM CATCHER, BLUE MOONLIGHT, MURDER BY MOONLIGHT, THE GUILTY, MOONLIGHT SONATA, MOONLIGHT WEEPS, FULL MOONLIGHT, THE SHROUD KEY, and more. He is also the author of the Amazon bestselling digital shorts, PATHOLOGICAL, TRUE STORIES and MOONLIGHT MAFIA. Harlan Coben has described THE INNOCENT (formerly As Catch Can) as “…gritty, fast-paced, lyrical and haunting,” while the New York Post called it “Sensational…Masterful…Brilliant!” Zandri’s list of publishers include Delacorte, Dell, StoneHouse Ink, StoneGate Ink, and Thomas & Mercer. An MFA in Writing graduate of Vermont College, Zandri’s work is translated, or soon to be translated, into many languages including the Dutch, Russian, French, Italian, and Japanese. An adventurer, foreign correspondent, and freelance photo-journalist for Living Ready, RT, Globalspec, as well as several other global news agencies and publications, Zandri lives in New York and Florence, Italy. For more go to WWW.VINCENTZANDRI.COM


Florence, Italy
October, 2012“You stole my wife!”
That rather inflammatory accusation is lobbed from a fully grown man who, despite his God given gender, is most definitely screaming like a girl. A high school math teacher, to be precise, who’s attempted two back-to-back roundhouse swipes at me and whiffed miserably.
“I did not steal your wife,” I insist in as calm and nonthreatening a voice as I can possibly muster under the circumstances. “Your wife stole me. Get it?”
Here’s the deal:
I’m standing outside the Duomo Cathedral in beautiful, scenic Florence, Italy. No, that’s not right. I’m not standing. More like I’m dancing, dodging the punches and swipes of this paunchy, Dunkin Donut fed middle-aged American. The American wants me dead. Dead and buried. Yet I feel terrible for him. His chubby face has gone heart-attack red, eyes swollen with tears and rage. His horrified wife looks on as do a crowd of tourists who have come to the Duomo to witness some glorious Renaissance history but instead have managed to acquire free ringside seats to a brawl between a walking tour guide and one very jealous husband.
How did I get here? How did guiding these nice mid-western white-bread Americans result in my pulling the rope-a-dope inside one of the most sacred piazzas in the world while in the distance the polizia alarms blare, and the crowds of Japanese gawkers look on in smiley faced astonishment?
The sad truth of the matter is this:
I did it by being me. Chase Baker, former sandhog turned bestselling thriller writer, slash private investigator, slash tour guide, slash full-time screw up when it comes to some of the more attractive female clientele.
So what harm can come from a little innocent flirting?
Just ask the man desperately taking swings at me, trying to knock my teeth down my throat.
Maybe this isn’t the first time easy love has come my way via a tour client, and this isn’t the first time a jealous husband has wanted to hurt me over it. It’s just that this is the first time things have gotten physical in public, with potential clients looking on. So then, like a freshly dug grave that’s caving in on all sides, I suddenly find myself way in over my head.
But then, this rather sensitive situation is not entirely my fault. For example, it’s not my fault that the woman in question rang my doorbell at midnight last night, waking me from out of a sound sleep just to “chat” and drink a little Chianti together. Not my fault that I’m still the same not-entirely-worse-for-wear Renaissance man I was the day my now ex-wife walked out on me holding my infant daughter in her arms, shouting, “You don’t want a marriage! All you want is a plane ticket to anywhere but here!”
What is my fault, is my having answered the door for this exceptionally attractive tourist in the first place. Better that I simply rolled over and ignored the ringing doorbell. Better that I shut out the image of her lush blond hair, jade green eyes and legs so long and firm they began at her feet and ended somewhere inside her shoulders. Better that I reminded myself of her marriage status and then simply dozed cozily back to sleep.
But of course, what made things worse is that the lovely tourist woke the dog. And once Lulu, your two year old black and white pit bull is awake, half the residents on the Via Guelfa are awake from her barking and carrying on.
Dragging myself out of bed, I ran my hands over my short hair and down my scruffy face. I stretched myself one way and then the other, feeling the solid muscles in my back and arms tense up. Opening the shutters onto the cool spring night, I felt the cool air touch my naked skin, and I laid eyes upon the blond apparition thumbing my buzzer.
“It’s midnight, Mrs. Doyle,” I said out the open window. “I’m closed for business.”
In the background, I could make out the noise of some revelers returning from the bars near the Piazza Del Duomo, their boot heals slapping against the cobble-covered roads.
“I just want to chat,” she said, smiling, her alcohol-soaked voice sounding sultry and sexy in the night. In her right hand she gripped a five Euro bottle of Chianti which she raised up as an enticement, like she required an enticement with those eyes and everything that went with those eyes. “Look, Chase. I brought refreshments.”
I felt my heart beating. Felt my blood flowing through my veins. I glanced down at Lulu who was standing just a couple of feet away on the smooth wood floor of my five hundred year old third floor apartment.
“What should I do, Lu?” I whispered.
“You know what you should do,” the pit bull said with a wag of her tail. “You should go the hell back to bed. Get up bright and early in the morning, work on your new book, then get in a quick run before having to meet your group at ten for the Duomo tour. That’s what you should do. Don’t forget, you need the dough-ray-mi.”
“Yah,” I agreed, gazing back down onto the blond goddess dressed in short black mini-skirt, black lace tights and knee-length leather boots. “I should go back to bed, shouldn’t I?”
“But you’re not going to do that are you, Chase?” Lu added. “As usual you’re gonna listen to your dick, unlock the door for this lonely but very married tourist, invite her into your world. You’re gonna drink her wine until it’s almost gone and then you’re gonna get naked. From that point on I gotta be forced to listen to your moans and groans and bed-board banging when I should be getting my rest. But then what the hell do I know? I’m just a stupid dog. I don’t even know I’m alive.”
“You sure you’re just a dog, Lu?”
“If it looks like a dog, smells like a dog, barks like a dog…”
“Most dogs don’t talk human speak.”
“Most dogs ain’t gotta live with you, Chase. And you’re making all this dialogue up in your head anyway.”
“Thanks for reminding me, Lu. Thought I finally lost it for a minute.”
Working up a grin, I inhaled a deep, satisfying breath, and decided, “What the hell?”
That’s when I proceeded to jump down into the rabbit hole.
“Okay, Mrs. Doyle, I’m gonna let you in. But just for an hour. Long day tomorrow, remember? The Duomo tour and the ‘David’ in the Academia. You’re paying me big bucks for this.”
“Oh, good one, Chase.” Lu, moaning under her breath. “Real smooth.”
“Back off, Lu. Daddy’s got a date.” A wide smile plastered on my face, I sprinted out of the bedroom to the front door. Unbolting the door, I leapt down the stairs to let her in…
…Ten hours, thirty three minutes, and sixteen seconds later, I find myself wrestling. Only I’m not naked and the person I’m wrestling with is most definitely not a jade-eyed blond beauty. I’m grappling with the overweight husband of said jade-eyed beauty.
A one, Mr. Robert Doyle.
“I knew you were with her last night when I rolled over and she was gone,” screams the red-faced faced man, as he tries to trap me in a bear hug. “I knew it the moment you set eyes on her you’d try and get in her pants.”
I shove the far softer Doyle away, hold up my hands in surrender like I want no part of fighting him. And I don’t. He’s my client after all, and by the looks of his physical constitution, only two heartbeats away from a major coronary.
“She came to me, Mr. Doyle. Last night at midnight when I was asleep.”
“That supposed to make me feel better, Chase Baker?”
In the near distance, the wailing sirens growing louder. So is the crowd that surrounds me.
“Fight!” someone barks. An Australian. “Don’t just dance like a couple of Sallies.”
Australians love to fight.
“Yah, punch his lights outs!” someone else shouts. A Japanese man. Sounds like, “Punch his whites out!”
But I really don’t want to go all Russell Crowe on this man; don’t want to punch his lights out. He’s just angry, confused and hurt.
Doyle takes another swing at me, and another. This time he connects with my right jaw, sending a shock wave of pain into my head. It also flicks a trigger. My defensive trigger. The one that brings out Chase Baker the Survivor. The one that’s been triggered in bars and Irish pubs the world over. Istanbul, Athens, Cairo, Rome. You name it. I’ve tossed my fair share of punches and swallowed a few too. But this is the first time it’s happened while working.
“Chase, don’t you dare hurt my husband!” cries the suddenly concerned voice of Mrs. Doyle. She’s still looking mighty choice in her black mini skirt and leather boots. She did her share of screaming last night in my apartment. Now she’s screaming once more. Only difference is, she’s changed her tune entirely. Her eyes are filled with tears and she’s clutching her face with her pretty little hands. I’m the bad guy now. Like last night’s little midnight affair was all my idea.
“Don’t you dare hurt my husband you big bully!”
Her face is a combination remorse, fear and hatred for herself over what she’s done.
I know the look all too well. I’ve seen that face before on a dozen other too-attractive-for-their-own-good girls whose husbands have just discovered the worst thing they can possibly imagine: That their pretty little trophy wives are also pretty little cheats.
My head is ringing like the Duomo bell. I feel slightly out of balance. So much so that I don’t see yet another punch coming. This one connects with my other jaw. The crowd roars in approval.
If the first wallop triggered a survival mechanism, this one sparks rage.
“Sorry, Mr. Doyle,” I say, “but you leave me little choice.”
Taking a step into the bigger man’s body, I lead with an uppercut that travels through the math teacher’s soft underbelly all the way to his spine. I then quickly follow up with a left hook to the lower jaw and just like that, it’s lights out for Mr. Doyle on the cobblestones of a breathtaking Renaissance treasure.
It’s also precisely when the polizia arrive.
They jump out of their white and blue Fiat squad car, grab me by my weight-trained arms, demand that I drop to my knees. How’s the old saying go? It’s not the angry man who punches first who gets caught. It’s the sucker who punches last who eats the crap sandwich.
“Hey, he started it!” I shout. But what I really should be doing is pointing at Mrs. Doyle, insisting, She started it!
The polizia don’t want to hear it anyway. This isn’t the first time they’ve picked me up for brawling and it certainly won’t be the last. They push my arms up over my head in the opposite way God intended for them to be pushed. The pain causes little flashes of white light to explode in my brain as I feel the steel cuffs being slapped over my wrists.
“You big bully!” shouts Mrs. Doyle as she slaps me across the face. Then, dropping to her knees over her out-cold husband, “Oh my sweet darling, are you okay?”
“Let’s go, Chase,” one of the blue-uniformed cops insists in his Italian-accented English. “You’ve got yourself a front row audience with Detective Cipriani…Vai, vai.”
“Does this mean I’m under arrest, officer?” I say as they painfully yank me up onto my feet.
“Si,” the other cop says. “It means your ass is glass.”
“Grass,” I say. “It’s ‘ass is grass.’ Why don’t you learn to get it right, Pinocchio?”
I feel the quick fist to the gut, and it’s all I can do not to double over.
“Why don’t you learn to shut up, Chase?” the cop says. “Silencio.”
“Good idea,” I say through gritting teeth. “I should learn to shut up and you should learn to speak English…The international language of choice the world over.”
Together the cops drag me to the squad car where they thrust me into the back seat, slamming the door closed. An EMT van arrives on the scene then, the medical technicians immediately exiting the vehicle and going to work on the still prone Doyle. Meanwhile, the cops hop back into the front of the cruiser.
As the cop behind the wheel pulls away from the piazza, I catch one more glimpse of Mrs. Doyle. She’s still kneeling over her husband. I shoot her a smile, like, Thanks for last night. But she returns my glance with a glare that would ice over Dante’s Inferno. When she raises up her right hand and flips me a manicured middle finger, I realize I should have listened to my dog, Lu, and not my other head.
“I’ll never learn,” I whisper to yourself. “Oh well, at least Detective Cipriani has nice cigars.”
I contemplate smoking a fine Cuban cigar all the way to polizia headquarters.1.“Signor Chase Baker!” shouts the guard sergeant as he approaches the iron bars of this dark, dank, basement holding cell. “You are free to go! Andare!”
I shove through a pen that’s filled mostly with drunk, piss-soaked vagrants who’ve migrated from Peru. Why they cross over the big drink to Italy instead of heading north to America, which is far closer, beats the hell out of me. Maybe they get better health care here. Or maybe it has something to do with a higher alcohol content in the beer…Yeah that’s it, more alcohol in the beer.
The barred door slides open.
I step on through, offer the uniformed guard sergeant a smile like, Top o’ the mornin’ to ya! Or, Top o’ the late afternoon anyway. He doesn’t smile back. Go figure.
“Su,” he says, nodding at the staircase before me.
Su…That’s Italian for “up.” As in, Get the hell up those stairs! It’s also something an American redneck might shout at an old dog before kicking it in the ass with his Redwing-booted foot.
“Up the stairs, Chase. Detective Cipriani would like a word with you in his office.”
“He asking or telling?” I say.
But the short, stocky cop just glares at me like he has no idea how to answer my query. And he doesn’t. The guard sergeant on my heels, I climb the concrete steps as ordered, like an old dog being led around by his master.A minute later I’m granted my private audience with Florence’s top cop. If you want to call him that. Detective Federico Cipriani closes the door to his office, asks me to take a seat in a wood chair set before his long dark wood desk. Set out on the desktop is a translucent plastic baggy that contains my personals: my belt, the laces to my boots, my wallet, my passport, my cell phone, my cigs, my Saint Christopher’s medal, my gun, my bullets … I go to reach for them.
“Not yet!” barks Cipriani, from across the room. “We need to talk first, Chase.”
I sit back, my eyes peeled on the internationally licensed 9 mm Smith & Wesson.
“Looks like the Doyles aren’t pressing charges,” I say. “How sweet of them.”
The fifty-something Ciprinai goes behind his desk, sits himself down. He’s a big man with a barrel chest and a pleasant looking face mostly hidden behind a thick but well trimmed beard. His eyes are brown as is his hair, and the dark blue suit he wears was no doubt purchased in Florence, probably at the department store across the street from the Piazza Della Republica.
“It’s true they have dropped their case of assault against you,” he nods, picking up my handgun, staring down contemplatively at it. “But that doesn’t excuse you from punching the merda out of an American tourist.”
“You detaining me further, Cip?” I say, pronouncing the nick name like “Chip.”
He shakes his head.
“No, just trying to somehow get it through that thick skull of yours that the time will come when I can no longer keep you out of trouble. Eventually you will be asked to leave Italy for good.”
I force my eyes wide open.
“Never,” I say. “Who will guide all those lovely lost women who’ve just arrived from America and England and Australia and Japan and China and Russia and…?”
“I’ll never understand it why a bestselling author like you still insists on providing guided tours or working as a private detective or even a, what do you call it, sand dog? Doesn’t make sense.”
“Three reasons,” I say, slipping my hand inside my bush jacket for my cigarettes, but then quickly realizing that they are stuffed into the plastic bag along with my lighter and my bullets. Oh well, I’ve been trying to quit on and off for years now. “One, writing is a solitary existence. It gets mighty lonely. Second, guiding, detecting and sandhogging–not sanddogging–provides me with badly needed human contact and it also makes for good story material now and again. Third, the money is good and on occasion great. Royalties are good too but not always so consistent. You with me here, Cip? Just think of me as a Renaissance man living and thriving in the home of the Renaissance.”
He spins the gun on his thick index finger like a little boy and his plastic six-shooter, bites down on his lip.
“You know I don’t like that you are able to carry this in my peaceful town of art and culture.”
“Money talks,” I smile. “Especially in Italy. Just ask the American GIs who saved your ass from Nazi enslavement during World War Two. And you personally signed off on my permit, don’t forget. Besides, this isn’t your town anyway, Cip. It’s Brunelleschi’s town, or haven’t you noticed that big giant marble dome occupying the center of the city?”
“You’re not getting any younger, Chase. Soon you will not be so attractive to the young women who travel to this beautiful country. Perhaps you will now consider spending more time with your daughter in New York City.” Working up a smile. “You know, grow old gracefully. With dignity.”
“The food is better here. So is the wine. And I’m forty something. I’m not even close to old, yet.”
Cip sets the gun down on top of his desk. Opening the small wooden box set beside it, he pulls out a cigar, cuts the tip off with a small metal device he produces from his jacket pocket and gently sets it between his front upper and bottom teeth. Firing the cigar up with a silver-plated Zippo, he sensually releases a cloud of blue smoke through puckered lips. Then, slowly straightening himself up in his swivel chair, he reaches across the desk with his free hand, pushes the box of cigars in my direction.
“Thought you’d never ask,” I say.
Stealing a cigar from the box, I bite off the tip, spit it onto the wood floor. Leaning over the desk, I allow the cop to light me up.
“You always were a class act, Cip,” I say, sitting back. “When do I get my gun back?”
“Not yet,” he says. “I have a favor to ask of you first.”
I exhale the good tasting and very smooth Cuban-born smoke. If silence were golden, we’d be bathing in the stuff.
Finally I say, “Okay, Cip, you’ve got that look on your face like we’re going to be working together again whether I like it or not. What do you need? You want me to dig up some dirt on someone? Maybe follow some cheating hubby around Flo for a while?”
He shakes his head, smokes.
“Not exactly,” he explains. “But you’re right. It’s possible I have a job for you.”
“I’m listening, so long as it pays.”
He gets up, comes around the desk, approaches the set of French windows behind me, opens them onto the noises of the old city.
“I need you to find a missing man for me,” he says after a time.
I turn in my seat, looking at his backside as he faces out onto the cobbled street below.
“Find him where?” I say, knowing the question sounds like a silly one since if Cip knew where the man was he wouldn’t be asking me to find him in the first place. But it’s a good place to start.
“Somewhere in the Middle East would be my best guess. Egypt, perhaps.”
I smoke a little, visions of my sandhogging days in and around the Giza Plateau pulsing in my brain.
“Egypt,” I repeat. “Not the safest of places at this point in modern global history.”
“Especially if you’re an American. And the man I want you to find is indeed an American.”
“What’s his name?”
Cip backs away from the window, returns to his desk. Only instead of reclaiming his place behind it, he takes a seat on the desk’s edge, left foot dangling off the edge, the right foot planted.
“His name is Dr. Andre Manion. A biblical archeology professor from a small Catholic college in your Midwest. An expert on the historical Jesus of Nazareth and said to have discovered some relics belonging to the Jesus family.”
The name strikes home. So much so that a lesser man would allow the small electrical shock of the name to show on his face. But I’m not a lesser man. Or so I pretend.
“Did you say relics? Jesus relics?”
“Yes I did. Priceless antiquities, which no doubt stir your juices, perhaps more than Mr. Doyle’s wife did last evening. Manion’s over here on a teaching sabbatical at the American University. Or supposed to be here teaching, I should say. Early last month he went missing and hasn’t been seen or heard from since.”
Cip is right. The name Manion when combined with relics and antiquities does indeed stir my juices.
“Fact of the matter is this, Cip: I worked as a sandhog for Manion eight years ago in and around Giza where we were in search of some prized Biblical treasures. Perhaps the most prized Biblical treasure of all. But we never did find much of anything, and truth is, Manion ran out on me, leaving me hopelessly hung over and alone.”
“Sounds very dramatic, Chase,” Cip smiles. “I thank you for your honesty.”
“Don’t mention it. Obviously my life has improved in leaps and bounds since those days.”
“Obviously,” Cip says. “That prize fight performance in the Piazza Del Duomo is proof of that.”
“Very funny,” I say. Then, “Thought you said Manion was in Egypt?”
“That’s the best possible guess based upon what we’ve put together thus far. I didn’t say there weren’t any clues as to his specific whereabouts inside the embattled country. I said, he himself hasn’t been seen, other than on airport security video in both the Florence and Cairo airports.”
“He travelling alone?”
“Don’t know the answer to that.”
“Exactly what relics has Manion uncovered?”
I feel my heart race as I ask the question.
“Don’t know the answer to that either,” he admits. “But I’ve heard a rumor that he uncovered the small tomb that housed the bones of Joseph, Jesus’s father. But that was a while ago now and in any case, finds of this magnitude would naturally be snatched up by the Vatican. That is, the finds can be verified in the first place. Naturally you would be familiar with such a process.”
“Naturally,” I say. “Or at the very least, the relics would go to the highest bidding private collector. Perhaps someone from Moscow. Or maybe one of your richer-than-God friends in Florence, Cip.”
The top cop smokes, glares at me for a moment, like he’s waiting for the stink from my comment to dissipate.
I add, “I assume your support staff has done everything in their power to locate him?”
“And then some. We’ve even gotten Interpol involved. But they too have come up short. Egypt is not the most cooperative of countries since its revolution and the election of a radical Islamist backed government.”
I reach into the right-hand pocket of my bush jacket, pull out a small notebook and a Bic ballpoint that Short, Stocky Guard Sergeant failed to relieve me of before tossing me into the pen with the drunk Peruvians. I click on the back of the pen with my thumb, jot down the name Manion, as if I need to. Then I write the name, Jesus, as if I need to do that also. Finally I scribble in a dollar sign, just for good measure. Makes me smile when I look at it.
“Manion got a wife? A mother? A boyfriend? Someone I can speak with who might help me out here?”
I can’t recall if the professor was married at the time we were digging all over Egypt. I recall him mentioning a woman now and again. But I don’t recall her name.
“His wife is in town. She teaches English at the same college her husband teaches at. She’s been here for a couple of weeks now. She desperately wants to find him. In the meantime, she can be a wealth of information for you, if you play her the right way and keep your dick in your pants.”
“Hey, you know me,” I smile.
“That’s what I’m afraid of.”
“Who would I be working for? You or her?”
“If you take the job, you’ll be working directly for her. She’s independently wealthy I’m told.”
“My kind of client.”
He slides off his desk, goes around it to his top drawer, which he pulls open. He slides out a manila envelope and tosses it across the desk so that it lands on the desk’s edge. I take the package in hand and go to open it when he stops me.
“Take it home,” he insists. “Examine it. Take your time. You should know that this one won’t be easy. It will also be dangerous.”
“You mean I can actually say no for a change?”
“Sure you can, Chase. Under one condition.”
“And that is?”
“You pack up and head back home to the states, since I will personally revoke your temporary work permit and your permit to carry a firearm in Italy.”
“Those are my choices?”
“Take them or leave them.”
I smoke and pretend to think about taking the job.
“Can you perhaps give me a hint about what it is Manion was working on and why he was willing to disappear in order to find it?”
But then, I already know precisely what he’s working on. I just want to hear it from the good detective’s smoky mouth.
“My guess is that Manion is being paid by a private investor to locate something of extreme sensitivity in religious circles.”
“Which means it would be worth a lot of money in people circles,” I say, my eyes no doubt, lit up like the lights on a Christmas tree.
“Watch yourself, Chase,” Cip warns. “If what Manion is in search of is as important as I think it is, more than one person will be willing to die in order to get their hands on it.”
I feel the weight of the package in my hands.
“What the hell is Manion after, Cip?”
I need to hear it, to believe it…
Exhaling, he says, “I don’t know for sure since you will have to speak to his wife. But it’s possible that the professor has stumbled upon something that is liable to shake up the very foundation of Christian belief as the world knows it.”
The words aren’t exactly what I want to hear, but on the other hand, the words can only mean one thing. I stand up, my head feeling a little lightheaded from the cigar and from what Cip is telling me.
“And that is?” I press.
“The bones of Jesus himself.”
There, he said it. Said what I wanted him to say.
For the love of God, the quest for the mortal remains of Jesus begins again.

My Review

Vincent Zandri has created the character of Chase Baker, who is somewhere between Robert Langdon and Indiana Jones. In doing so he has created his latest novel which is his best yet. The action moves from Florence, to the Vatican City, to the pyramids of Egypt on a search for a historic artefact that neither Langdon nor Jones could even dream about.

The Shroud Key is a page turner, as is common to Vincent Zandri’s other novels the pace is relentless. The short punchy chapters move you onwards with a feeling of breathlessness akin to the fastest action movie. The descriptions are vivid, and as the reader you feel as if you’re right there in the thick of the story. The other characters are all believable, and there is no way of telling just how the story is going to play out until the last page. The reader is kept guessing, as the plot turns, and there are surprises along the way, including a couple that I didn’t see coming.

The use of historical facts and modern situations make for a very believable tale, blending facts and the fictional story telling of the author seamlessly over the pages. This is done in such a way that you’re never quite sure whether fact stops and the imagination of the author takes over, and because the story is moving so fast, there’s never time to think about it because you’ll be too busy turning the pages to find out what happens next.

I’m expecting more of Chase Baker and could see him developing into a strong series character. If not this novel works well as a stand-alone.

I’d recommend The Shroud Key to anyone who likes fast paced thrillers, and also fans of authors such as Dan Brown, and Clive Cussler.

My Rating 4 out of 5 Stars – I Really Like It.

Book Details

Genre: Action, Adventure, Romance, Suspense
Published by: Bear Media
Publication Date: Sept 3, 2013
Number of Pages: 241
Purchase Links:


Disclaimer I received a complimentary copy of The Shroud Key in return for an honest review. No other form of payment has been made to me.

Guest Post: Vincent Zandri author of The Disappearance of Grace

FINAL_Grace_3authorpicbylauraMy guest today is Vincent Zandri, author of the Disappearance of Grace, as well as a number of other thrillers including the standalone Concrete Pearl and the Dick Moonlight series. I had a few questions for him about his latest book and also what his up and coming plans are. Here’s what he had to say:



Q: You really nailed Venice for the reader with the detail in The Disappearance of Grace. Did you decide to use the City before your recent visit or as a result of it? Was there somewhere else in mind? You’re also currently in Egypt, can we expect to be reading a book set there in the near future?

I’ve been lucky enough to visit Venice a few times over the past twenty years. Once during Carnival which is its own unique, dream-like experience. It’s such a mysterious maze of narrow alleys and stone walkways that actually light up in the rain. On occasion, those paths lead to nowhere but water. You can’t help but get lost. You also want to get lost. Or, you should anyway. Navigating Venice is kind of like walking a forest in that what you see when walking one direction doesn’t always resemble what you see when walking in the opposite direction. Venice creates wonder and awe in the people who see her for the first time. But it just might be one of the most beautiful places on earth that also causes great fear. Out of my own anxiety I wondered how it would feel to lose someone you loved very much in a city of water, love, art, and mystery.

 Yes, I’m in Egypt researching a new project called CHASE which will initially be a Kindle series for Thomas & Mercer, and then a book. It’s possible Egypt will be included in a future stand-alone novel as well.

Q: Your principal character suffers from a form of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, which you managed to make very real for the reader. How did you research this and was there anything in particular you were able to use to make it feel so real for the reader?

I did some research, academically speaking. But mostly I talked to real people who have suffered PTSD under various circumstances. I come from a long line of combat infantry soldiers so I was able to witness the effects of prolonged combat to a certain degree. Years ago many of my friends were Viet Nam vets who underwent some horrible combat situations which mimic much of what happens in the Afghanistan portion of the novel. Sadly, most of the vets are dead now, having died early from self-medicated the malevolent effects of the PTSD. Even today, I make a point of listening to the stories of soldiers currently fighting in Afghanistan or who have fought in Iraq. I also meet many of them on my travels.   

Q: I felt that Grace was a bit of an enigma for a large part of the book, meaning that I was never quite sure what her fate had been and why she had disappeared. Was this intentional on your part or just a lucky coincidence?

Absolutely intentional.  Without spoiling, I wanted to create the effect of viewing this story entirely through the eyes and mind of Nick. In doing so it’s possible the reader might actually consider Grace a figment of his imagination. Part of the PTSD. Her name is not coincidental either. She is more than a woman to Nick. She is a state of being, and a necessary part of who he is as a complete, but damaged, human being.

Q: Over the last year, you’ve signed some major deals with publishers and we’re starting to see some of your earliest books being republished. What are your plans for the next year in terms of new books, or are we going to have to wait and see?

In two weeks my next major book, Murder by Moonlight will be released by Thomas & Mercer of Amazon Publishing. A few months after that, Moonlight Sonata will also be released. The third in the Marconi series is also coming. It’s called The Guilty. Just now I’m beginning to outline a stand-alone called, The Ashes. Also, I’ll be working on the new series CHASE which will probably see the light of day in early 2014. So, yes, lots on the fire.

Book Review: The Disappearance of Grace by Vincent Zandri


Now you see her. Now you don’t…

Captain Nick Angel has finally made a separate peace with the war in Afghanistan. Since having been ordered to bomb a Tajik village which resulted in the death of a little boy of no more than two, he’s been suffering from temporary bouts of blindness. Knowing the he needs time to rest and recover from his post traumatic stress, the US Army decides to send him to Venice along with his fiancee, the artist, Grace Blunt. Together they try and recapture their former life together. But when Grace suddenly goes missing, Nick not only finds himself suddenly alone and sightless in the ancient city of water, but also the number one suspect in her disappearance.

A novel that projects Hitchcockian suspense onto a backdrop of love and war, The Disappearance of Grace is a rich, literary thriller of fear, loss, love, and revenge. From the war in the Afghan mountains to the canals of romantic Venice, this is a story that proves 20/20 eyesight might not always be so perfect and seeing is not always believing.

About the Author:

Vincent Zandri is the No. 1 International Bestselling Amazon author of THE INNOCENT, GODCHILD, THE REMAINS, MOONLIGHT FALLS, CONCRETE PEARL, MOONLIGHT RISES, SCREAM CATCHER, BLUE MOONLIGHT and MURDER BY MOONLIGHT. He is also the author of the Amazon bestselling digital shorts, PATHOLOGICAL, TRUE STORIES and MOONLIGHT MAFIA. Harlan Coben has described THE INNOCENT (formerly As Catch Can) as “…gritty, fast-paced, lyrical and haunting,” while the New York Post called it “Sensational…Masterful…Brilliant!” Zandri’s list of publishers include Delacorte, Dell, StoneHouse Ink, StoneGate Ink and Thomas & Mercer. An MFA in Writing graduate of Vermont College, Zandri’s work is translated into many languages including the Dutch, Russian, and Japanese. An adventurer, foreign correspondent, and freelance photo-journalist for RT, Globalspec, IBTimes and more, he lives in Albany, New York.

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The wind picks up off the basin.
It seems to seep right through my leather coat into flesh, skin and bone. I try and hold my face up to the sun while the waiter takes our orders. Grace orders a single glass of vino russo and a pancetta and cheese panini. I forgo the Valpolicella and order a Moretti beer and a simple spaghetti pomadoro. The waiter thanks us and I listen to him leaving us for now.We sit in the calm of the early afternoon, the sounds of the boat traffic coming and going on the basin filling my ears. People surround us on all sides. Tourists who have come to San Marco for the first time and who’ve become mesmerized by it all. I don’t have to physically see them to know how they feel. The stone square, the Cathedral, the bell tower, the many shops and high- end eateries that occupy the wide, square-shaped perimeter. The pigeons. The people. Always the throngs of people coming and going amidst a chorus of bells, bellowing voices, live music emerging from trumpets, violins, and guitars, and an energetic buzz that seems to radiate up from underneath all that stone and sea-soaked soil.It’s early November.Here’s what I know about Venice: In just a few week’s’ time, the rains will come and this square will be underwater. The ever sinking Venice floods easily now. The only way to walk the square will be over hastily constructed platforms made from cobbled narrow planks. Many of the tourists will stay away and the live music will be silenced. But somehow, that’s when Venice will come alive more than ever. When the stone is bathed in water.

The waiter brings our drinks and food.
With the aroma of the hot spaghetti filling my senses, I dig in and spoon up a mouthful. I wash the hot, tangy sauce-covered pasta down with a swallow of red wine.

“Whoa, slow down, chief,” Grace giggles.

“Eating, smiling, making love to me. What’s next? Writing?”

“Don’t press your luck, Gracie,” I say. “The sea change can occur at any moment. Just don’t start asking me to identify engagement rings.”

She laughs genuinely and I listen to the sounds of her taking a bite out of her sandwich. But then she goes quiet again. Too quiet, as if she’s stopped breathing altogether.

“There’s someone staring at us,” she says under her breath.

“Man or woman?” I say, trying to position my gaze directly across the table at her, but making out nothing more than her black silhouette framed against the brightness of the sun. Later on, when the sun goes down, the image of her will be entirely black. Like the blackness of the Afghan Tajik country when the fires are put out and you lie very still inside your tent without the benefit of electronic night vision, and you feel the beating of your never- still heart and you pray for morning.

“Man,” she whispers.

“What’s he look like?”

“It’s him again. The man in the overcoat who was staring at us yesterday.”

A start in my heart. I put my fork down inside my bowl. “Are you sure?”

“Yes. I think. He’s wearing sunglasses this time. So,. I think it’s him.”

“What’s he look like?”

“He’s a thin man. Not tall. Not short. He’s got a dark complexion.”


“No. More like Asian or Middle Eastern. He’s wearing sunglasses and that same brown overcoat and a scarf. His hair is black and cut close to his scalp. His beard is very trim and cropped close to his face.” She exhales. I hear her take a quick, nervous sip of her wine. “He keeps staring at us. At me. Just like yesterday, Nick.”

“How do you know he’s staring at you? It could be something behind you, Grace. We’re in Venice. Lots going on behind you. Lots to see.”

She’s stirring in her chair. Agitated.
“Because I can feel him. His eyes…I. Feel. His. Eyes.”

I wipe my mouth clean with the cloth napkin. I do something entirely silly. I turn around in my chair to get a look at the man. As if I have the ability to see him right now, which I most definitely do not.

“What are you doing?” Grace poses, the anxiety in her voice growing more intense with each passing second.

“Trying to get a look at him.”

“You’re joking, Nick.”

I turn back, try and focus on her.

“You think?”

We sit silent.
Once more I am helpless and impotent.

“I’m sorry,” she says after a time. “I’m not trying to insult you. This isn’t like yesterday with the ring. But this man is at the same café we’re at two days in a row? This is really starting to creep me out, babe.”

My pulse begins to pump inside my head. Not rapid, but just enough for me to notice. Two steady drum beats against my temples. I find myself wanting to swallow, but my mouth has gone dry. I take a sip of beer thinking it will help.

“He’s coming towards us, Nick. I don’t like it.”

Heart beat picks up. I feel it pounding inside my head and my chest.

“Are you sure he’s coming towards us, Grace?” I’m trying not to raise my voice, but it’s next to impossible.

“He’s looking right at me. His hands are stuffed in the pockets of his overcoat. And he’s coming.”

I feel and hear Grace pulling away from the table. She’s standing. That’s when the smell of incense sweeps over me. A rich, organic, incense-like smell.

There comes the sound of Grace standing. Abruptly standing. I hear her metal chair push out. I hear the sound of her boot heels on the cobbles. I hear the chair legs scraping against the stone slate. I hear the sound of her wine glass spilling.

“Grace, for God’s sakes, be careful.”

But she doesn’t respond to me. Or is it possible her voice is drowned out by what sounds like a tour group passing by the table? A tour group of Japanese speaking people. But once they pass, there is nothing. No sound at all other than the boats on the basin and the constant murmur of the thousands of tourists that fill this ancient square.

“Grace,” I say. “Grace. Stop it. This isn’t funny. Grace.”

But there’s still no response.
The smell of incense is gone now.
I make out the gulls flying over the tables, the birds shooting in from the basin to pick up scraps of food and then, like thieves in the night, shooting back out over the water. I can hear and feel the sound-wave driven music that reverberates against the stone cathedral.

“Grace,” I repeat, voice louder now. “Grace. Grace…Grace!”

I’m getting no response.

It’s like she’s gone. Vanished. But how can she be gone? She was just sitting here with me. She was sitting directly across from me, eating a sandwich and drinking a glass of wine. She was talking with me.
The waiter approaches.

“The signora is not liking her food?” he questions.

I reach out across the table. In the place where she was sitting. She is definitely not there.

“Is there a toilet close by?” I pose. “Did you see my fiancée leave the table and go to the toilet?”

The waiter pauses for a moment.

“I am sorry. But I did not. I was inside the café.”

“Then maybe somebody else saw her. Maybe you can ask them.”

“Signor, there are many tables in this café and they are all filled with people. And there are many people who walk amongst the tables who can block their view. I am looking at them. No one seems to be concerned about anything. Sometimes there are so many people here, it is easy to get lost. Perhaps she just went to the toilet like you just suggested, and she got lost amongst the people. I will come back in moment and make sure all is well.”

I listen to the waiter leaving, his footsteps fading against the slate.
Grace didn’t say anything about going to the toilet or anywhere else. Grace was frightened. She was frightened of a man who was staring at her. A man with sunglasses on and a cropped beard and a long brown overcoat. He was the man from yesterday. The man with black eyes. He was approaching us, this man. He came to our table and he smelled strongly of incense. He came to our table. There was a slight commotion, the spilling of a glass, the knocking over of a chair, and then Grace was gone.

I sit and stare at nothing. My heart is pounding so fast I think it will cease at any moment. What I have in the place of vision is a blank wall of blurry illumination no longer filled with the silhouette of my Grace.

I push out my chair. Stand. My legs knock into the table and my glass spills along with Grace’s.

I cup my hands around my mouth.

“Grace!” I shout. “Grace! Grace!”

The people who surround me all grow quiet as I scream over them.

The waiter comes running back over.

“Please, please,” he says to me, taking me by the arm. “Please come with me.”

He begins leading me through the throng of tables and people. He is what I have now in the place of Grace. He is my sight.

“She’s gone, isn’t she?” I beg. “Did you check the toilets?”

“We checked the toilets. They are empty. I am sorry. I am sure there is an explanation.”

“Grace is gone!” I shout. “A man took her away. How could no one have seen it?”

“You’re frightening the patrons, signor. Please just come with me and we will try and find her.”

“She’s gone,” I repeat. “Don’t you understand me? My. Grace. Is. Gone.”

My Review:

This one has it all. Strong characters, human interest, action, emotion, pace and a cracking story location.

From the hills of Afghanistan to the canals and alleyways of Venice, an unlikely combination and one which perhaps only a few authors could pull off, but Vincent Zandri has certainly done that here. The level of detail in the setting, places you at the heart of the scene each and every time. You can actually picture in your mind’s eye what’s going on and the backdrop to it.

The same is true of the characters; the book is not a particularly long one, but even in such a short space, the main character is laid out in detail so that you really get into his head from early in the book, which is what makes it work so well. On the other hand ‘Grace’ is more of a mystery to the reader and I think this adds to the centre of the plot in terms of what actually happened until this is revealed later in the book.

I’ve already said that this wasn’t a particularly long book, but it didn’t need to be, and could easily be read in one sitting. Again this makes the book ‘work’, as you turn the pages each chapter hooks you in more than the last and keeps you going until the end.

I have read a number of Mr Zandri’s books in the last couple of years, and whilst I would describe him as a thriller writer in the main, each time he manages to surprise me with a little something. Either a strong character or a detailed location, each book has an edge that makes it a page turner. With The Disappearance of Grace, Vincent Zandri has once again hit that sweet-spot, and if you haven’t already sought him out, it’s about time you did.

My Rating: 5 out of 5 Stars – I Loved It!

Book Review: Moonlight Rises by Vincent Zandri


Book Details:

Genre: Adult Suspense, Mystery, Thriller

Publisher: StoneGate Ink

Publication Date: August 13,2011



Life sucks. Then you die. Or, if you’re Dick Moonlight, first you die and then you live. Dick Moonlight is dead. Really dead this time, now that three President Obama-masked thugs dressed all in black and communicating only with hand-held voice synthesizers pressed up against their voice boxes have beat the life right out of him inside a dark, downtown Albany alley. What are the thugs after? A box. Size, weight, description unknown. They also want him to stay away from his newest and only client: a handicapped nuclear engineer of dubious Russian heritage by the same of Peter Czech.  But then, now that they’ve killed him, Moonlight’s problems seem to be over. In fact, as he undergoes an out of body experience, his soul floating above his train-wreck of a corpse inside the Albany Medical Center I.C.U., he feels pretty damned good. Great in fact. To make death all the more sweeter, his one true love, Lola, is standing by his bedside. With her long dark hair draping her chiseled face and big round Jackie O sunglasses hiding tear-filled eyes, she appears every bit the grieving sig other. Nothing could make the dead-and-gone Moonlight prouder. 

But then something happens. Something bad. A man enters into the I.C.U. Some young guy. He takes hold of Lola’s hand, and pulls her into him. Together, the two share a loving embrace over Moonlight’s dead body. Now, what seemed like a peaceful death is anything but. Moonlight wants back inside his body so he can face-off Some Young Guy and find out if his true love has in fact been cheating on him. At the same time, he wants to find out the true identity of those thugs who killed him so he can exact his revenge. No doubt about it, Moonlight needs to live if he’s going to uncover some pretty painful answers and take care of business.Like a little kid dropping down a playground slide, Moonlight slides right back inside his bruised and broken body. Opening his eyes the white light blinds him. He feels the pain of his wounds and the pain of his breaking heart. Life sucks, then you die. But Moonlight rises.

My Review:

5 out of 5 Stars – I Loved It!

Peter Czech has hired Dick Moonlight to find his father, unfortunately three Obama masked thugs have other ideas and now Moonlight is dead.

This is another awesome read from Vincent Zandri.  The pace is relentless, from the first page to the last, the story reveals it’s tale of death, life, espionage, and families lost.

The story is both hard nosed and at times very funny, with some hilarious moments as Dick Moonlight investigates his latest case.

The characters, in particular Dick Moonlight are both believable and well developed, as you read you become more and more engaged with them and want to know what is going to happen to them next, and the stories pace doesn’t keep you waiting long. 

The story is both believable and also at times will leave you with your jaw open in astonishment, as another turn in the story has you wondering what will be happening next.

This non-stop rollercoaster could very easily be read in one sitting, and this maybe the best way to approach this book, especially if you have other things you want to do, because the desire to find out what happens next will keep you reading and away from what you are probably supposed to be doing.  The good news though is that Dick Moonlight is a series character, so once you’ve finished this one there are plenty more where it came from!

If you’re a fan of crime fiction then I commend Moonlight Rises and it’s author Vincent Zandri to you, he may not be a name your familiar with but he should be!

Review Disclaimer:  I received a free kindle version of Concrete Pearl to review as a part of Vincent Zandri’s virtual book tour.  I have previously read his novels, and so am familiar with his work, but I have received no other endorsement for this review.


Vincent Zandri is the No. 1 International Bestselling Amazon Kindle author of THE INNOCENT, GODCHILD, THE REMAINS, MOONLIGHT FALLS, CONCRETE PEARL and the forthcoming MOONLIGHT RISES. He is also the author of the bestselling digital shorts, PATHOLOGICAL and MOONLIGHT MAFIA. Harlan Coben has described his novels as “…gritty, fast-paced, lyrical and haunting,” while the New York Post called THE INNOCENT, “Sensational…Masterful…Brilliant!” In March, April and May of 2011, he sold more than 100,000 Kindle E-Books editions of his novels, and is rapidly closing in on the 200K mark all totaled. An MFA in Writing graduate of Vermont College, Zandri’s work is translated into many languages including the Dutch, Russian and Japanese. An adventurer, foreign correspondent, and freelance photo-journalist for RT, Globalspec, IBTimes and more, he divides his time between New York and Florence, Italy.

Connect With Vincent:





Purchase Moonlight Rises @:

Barnes & Noble

Next Stop on the Book Tour: Author Guest Post tomorrow (October 15th), at Live To Read

Guest Post From No.1 Bestselling Author Vincent Zandri: So are You Indy or Anal?

Today I welcome bestselling author Vincent Zandri to the blog, but you’re probably not here to read my words, so I’m handing over to the master:

If I had a nickle for every time I got asked the question, “Are you a seat-of-the-pants kind of writer?” In other words, am I an “Indiana Jones” who just adventurously barrels ahead without mapping out my scenes ahead of time in the hopes of allowing my story to form naturally or what all the no-gluten-professor geeks at writing school call, “organically?” Or do you actually write up character sketches that include everything from place of birth to bathroom habits, and then map out each chapter detail for detail? The answer I give is not really an answer. “It depends on the book,” I tell them. “And it also depends on the character.” If I’m writing a book like THE REMAINS that’s intended to be stand-alone literary thriller that contains subject matter such as identical twins, modern art and autistic savants and that is also told from the P.O.V. of a women, you can bet your bottom ten-spot that I’m gonna plan it out ahead of time. I’m also going to do some meticulous research so that reviewers on Amazon don’t crucify me. In the end if I’ve done my job right and the writing is convincing enough, I just might have a bestseller on my hands. And THE REMAINS has been just that. A bestseller for over a year.

But if I’m writing a novel like one of the Dick Moonlight Serials, now that’s another story altogether. The Richard “Dick” Moonlight of MOONLIGHT FALLS MOONLIGHT MAFIA, and the forthcoming MOONLIGHT RISES and MURDER BY MOONLIGHT is a total train wreck of a guy. He’s got a little piece of .22 caliber bullet lodged inside his brain from a failed suicide attempt. The piece has lodged itself right beside his cerebral cortex causing him the occasional short term memory lapse and lack of judgement, especially under times of stress, which is usually always. He drinks too much, and he can also pass out at any time or even suffer stroke, coma and death. In a word, Moonlight has no clue if he’ll be alive from one minute to the next. So his relentless search for right over wrong is always an unplanned adventure. Since he narrates all of his own stories, I feel the best way to write his books is to do so by the seat-of-my-pants. And thus far anyway, you loyal readers of mine (you know who you are), have sort of fallen in love with the dude. And that’s a cool thing since he’s the character who is most like me. So what’s the best way for you to write your book? Remember when you’d ask you mom or dad what was for dinner, and not having decided on anything yet, they might ask you in return, “Well what do you feel like?” A lot of what we decide to put in our body is based not only on a craving but more so on what our bodies are lacking at that time. If we’re protein starved we want meat or chicken. If were worn out and carb poor, we want pasta or even pizza. It’s the same with writing. Listen to you body and your brain, but most of all listen to your gut. Not your gut mind you, but the gut inside your main character. Is he or she someone who will want to be guided and reigned in? Or is he or she someone who won’t plan for the next five minutes much less two afternoons from now? Just remember, writing is a personal venture and there is no right or wrong way to do it. There is only just doing it.

Visit Vincent Zandri (that’s me!) at Amazon’s Author Central: (they asked me to say that!)


Vincent Zandri is the No. 1 International Bestselling author of the thrillers THE INNOCENTGODCHILDMOONLIGHT FALLSTHE REMAINS andCONCRETE PEARL. An MFA in Writing graduate of Vermont College, he has was a Stringer for The Albany Times Union Newspaper, and a contributor toNew York NewsdayHudson Valley MagazineGame and Fish Magazine, and more. His short fiction has appeared in many of the leading journals and magazines, Orange County Magazine, Buffalo Spree, Negative Capability, The Maryland ReviewRosebudThe Best of RosebudLost Creek Lettersamong them. His novels, stories, and journalism have been translated into many foreign languages including the Dutch, Japanese, French, Russian and Turkish. A freelance photo-journalist, foreign correspondent, and Blogger for RTGlobalspec and International Business Times, he divides his time between New York and Florence, Italy. 

For more on the author, go to WWW.VINCENTZANDRI.COM.



Book Review: Concrete Pearl by Vincent Zandri


Vincent Zandri is one hell of a writer.  He’s the author of other thrillers such as The Innocent, Godchild and The Remains (my review of The Remains is here), but Vincent scares me, he makes me wonder where he gets his inspiration, if it’s as true to life as it seems; I’m worried!

Concrete Pearl twists and shocks from the first page to the last.  The main character, Ava “Spike” Harrison, she got her name from impaling her foot on a six-penny nail on the first construction site she worked on, is about to have a very bad day.

She’s the boss of Harrison Construction, the company that was originally her beloved fathers, and now Spike’s the boss.  She’s a tough, no nonsense character who will never give up, never roll-over.  Harrison Construction already has a number of health and safety convictions, accidents that weren’t Spike’s fault but corporately the company takes the hit.  Today it’s going to get a lot worse.  Today asbestos is going to be found on the current work site.  That work site’s a school.  Worse; that work site is a school that still has children in it while the work carries on around them.  Asbestos contamination might equal sick kids.  Cancer.  Dead.  Kids.

The authorities shut the site down, Spike’s company is under suspicion of negligence, but Spike’s company sub-contracted the asbestos removal and now the removal company and the lab that verified their test results, have shut-down, they’ve vanished.  Spike needs to find them and settle what’s happened and clear her name.

The characters are lifelike and believable, some are so believable that you’ll hate them, want to take them out yourself.  You’ll feel for others, want to help them.  All the characters make this book the more believable page, after page, to the last page.

Zandri winds the plot tighter and tighter, he squeezes his lead character to incredible levels.  You wonder if she will ever sort out her problems as with each page a new issue raises its ugly head.  As accusations of negligence move to accusations of murder, the author redefines the term “thriller”.

As you think Spike is buried deep, Zandri turns the plot in her favour, revelation follows revelation.  You start to wonder just who you can trust.  Is anyone innocent?  Some are.  Zandri manages to tie up a plot and leave the reader very satisfied.   What happens to Spike?  Well you’ll just have to read the book and find out for yourself.

At the start of this review, I questioned the author’s inspiration, why?  Well simply because I did a little reading around, his blog, other reviews before I read this book.  Vincent Zandri appears to borrow from his own life as part of his books.  A character in the books’ son is born on Halloween, I understand that Zandri’s son is too, and Spike’s family name, Zandris son’s name.  So then what is it that Vincent Zandri knows about the construction industry, it’s claimed that this a fictional story based on real events? 

Whether this is true or not it doesn’t really matter, because Zandri is one hell of an author, and although he is well published and sells books, he’s probably not the household name of the likes of Patterson or Brown; Clancy or Child; but he deserves to be.  Zandri deserves to be the author I see in the window of Waterstones as I walk down the high street; to be in the 3 for 2’s.  The one that everyone is talking about, the one that is on bigger blogs than mine.  That’s what he deserves, I hope he gets it, but either way I’m buying his next book, and probably the one after that.  It’s rare to find an author that you want to read book after book, but Vincent Zandri is in that league.

5 out of 5 Stars – I Loved It!


Review Disclaimer:  I received a free kindle version of Concrete Pearl to review as a part of Vincent Zandri’s virtual book tour.  I have previously read his novels, and so am familiar with his work, but I have received no other endorsement for this review.

Come back tomorrow to read a post direct from Vincent Zandri himself.


Vincent Zandri is the No. 1 International Bestselling author of the thrillers THE INNOCENTGODCHILD,MOONLIGHT FALLSTHE REMAINS and CONCRETE PEARL. An MFA in Writing graduate of Vermont College, he has was a Stringer for The Albany Times Union Newspaper, and a contributor to New York NewsdayHudson Valley MagazineGame and Fish Magazine, and more. His short fiction has appeared in many of the leading journals and magazines, Orange County Magazine, Buffalo Spree, Negative Capability, The Maryland Review,RosebudThe Best of RosebudLost Creek Lettersamong them. His novels, stories, and journalism have been translated into many foreign languages including the Dutch, Japanese, French, Russian and Turkish. A freelance photo-journalist, foreign correspondent, and Blogger for RTGlobalspec and International Business Times, he divides his time between New York and Florence, Italy.


For more on the author, go to WWW.VINCENTZANDRI.COM.