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The Magdalene Deception

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Member Reviews

Gary McAvoy's "The Magdalene Deception" is filled with intrigue centered around the Vatican. It offers an alternative take on the history of Christ (which is entirely plausible) and features a handsome priest which adds to the sense of illicit thrill. There are also a couple of subplots in play. I would recommend for fans of "The Da Vinci Code" and similar.
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this was a really enjoyable read, the characters were great and I really enjoyed the mystery elements in the story.
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A superb read, incredibly well researched, and extremely plausible. I enjoyed reading it, and raced through it in one day. The main characters were well drawn and hopefully we will meet them again in another book.
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A friend recommended this book to me because both of us really enjoy Dan Brown and James Rollins.

The main character, Father Michael, is relatively new to the Vatican. He stumbles across some old letters in the archives that contain a secret so scandalous that, if exposed, could destroy the very foundation of the Catholic church and the faith of many.

In his quest to validate the claims someone higher up in the Vatican finds out about Father Michael’s discovery and is intent on stopping the information from getting out and also on stopping Father Michael himself.

All in all, an enjoyable read. I was expecting a Dan Brown-style Catholic church conspiracy theory read. The conspiracy theories were there, but there wasn’t enough action for my taste, it was more narration of what the characters were doing with a couple instances that had some action. The premise of the book was very good, and I think if it had the action factor I would’ve given it a solid 5/5. The writing on the other hand was very good and I would read another book by this author.

Thank-you to NetGalley and the publisher for my advanced reader copy.

Characters: ⭐⭐⭐⭐
Plot: ⭐⭐⭐⭐
Action/thrill: ⭐⭐⭐ ½ 
Writing: ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
Overall: ⭐⭐⭐⭐
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McAvoy has done a good job of weaving a fictional story into historical events. The descriptions of locations are detailed, allowing readers to get a very good sense of the setting. The characters are well developed, providing an essential aspect to an engaging novel. Unfortunately, the egalley I read did not have an author's note indicating which parts of the novel were, in fact, based on history and which were the author's imagination. 

Readers who like speculative plots based on possible ancient manuscripts will like this one. It has a good amount of intrigue and a little suspense near the end. It will also appeal to readers who like Dan Brown's early novels. I personally don't appreciate a novel that has as its plot disproving accepted historical accounts of Jesus' life. In that sense, the plot is not unique as similar plot lines have been written before. Other than my dislike of a plot critical of Christianity, I felt it was a very well written novel.

I received a complimentary egalley of this book through Partners in Crime Virtual Book Tours. My comments are an independent and honest review.
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A great action story about a young priest who discovers the trail of a scandalous relic. Perfect for fans of Dan Brown and James Rollins. This is a race against time (and other nefarious forces) to find an ancient holy relic and bring it to safety all whilst keeping your friends safe from harm.
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What happens when a priest working at the Vatican's most guarded Secret Archives stumbles upon a secret that could upturn the foundations of Christianity? Join Father Michael Dominic and journalist Hana Sinclair as they decipher the story behind this explosive secret that could alter the course of one of the major religions of the world and what it would mean for its millions of followers.

This book helped me rekindle my love for conspiracy thrillers. It is fast-paced and will keep you turning the pages till the very end. Though the book deals with an violent topics like the Inquisition and Holocaust, it handles them in a subdued manner touching upon everything without going too deep. I liked the fact that the book has very minimal blood shed. Even the action scenes are not too graphic. My only concern was that the blurb gave away a major plot point which was actually revealed more than half way  into the book. 

The ending does hint at a sequel and I for one am definitely looking forward to joining Michael and Hana on their next adventure. 

Thanks to the author, publisher and Net Galley for this digital copy. 
#TheMagdaleneDeception #NetGalley
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Some may think to compare the story line of this book to that of “The Davinci Code”, but that can not be further from the truth.  “The Davinci Code” was a fabrication of common perceptions and speculations fueled by fantasy while “The Magdalene Deception” was formed on credible facts and the potential damage such discoveries could cause the Church. I was raised a catholic by a devout catholic mother but it was my years of studies, and in many cases common sense, that still a believer in Christ have detached myself from the Catholic Church and held steadfast to my own interpretations.  This book provided me with more confirmation of my interpretations without destroying my faith as I feel many such types of books attempt to do.  Filled with facts and probabilities, this fictional story is by far the best I’ve ever read and with such historical details.  I didn’t want to put it down and fought with life’s interruptions that kept me from reading it in one sitting. However, I feel if I had done so I would not have appreciated the immense quality put forth in the creation of this story.  My hat off to Gary McAvoy for a great job, and while this was my first time reading one of his books I will certainly be on the lookout for future works.  It goes without say that if all you read is one book this year or ever you should definitely make it this one...The Magdalene Deception by Gary McAvoy.
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Imagine a document so shocking that it could turn Christianity on its head.  That's what the heart of The Magdalene Deception is about.  A priest working in the secret archives of the Vatican stumbles upon some hidden documents that leads him on an adventure that turns out to be very dangerous.  From the Vatican to Rennes Les Chateau, Father Dominic and Hana make the find of a lifetime.  

I will admit, it does start out a little slow while McAvoy lays the foundations for this story, but when it gets into the action, it is mesmerizing.  I just needed to know what was going to happen.  He has a wide variety of characters.  Everything from the very good to the very bad to the ones who do bad things for good reasons.  The settings were beautifully set.  While it didn't end exactly as I had hoped it would, it was satisfying nonetheless.   I learned some history in this book, which in my eyes is always a plus.  I love learning new things.  I look forward to reading the next book by Gary McAvoy.

This book has a Dan Brown feel to it, so if you like a bit of history mixed in with your action adventure, then this is the book for you.
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Readers who enjoy Dan Brown and Glenn Cooper will surely adore THE MAGDALENE DECEPTION,  a seriously roller-coaster religio/historical/contemporary thriller, referencing two of my cherished time periods/Conspiracy theories: Abbe Berenger Sauniere of Rennes-le-Chateau, France, in the very early 20th century,  and the Cathars of Languedoc in the 12th century. Father Michael Dominic, a Jesuit assigned to the Vatican's Secret Archive,  discovers evidence that a French priest may have blackmailed the Vatican! Then he and Swiss journalist Hana Sinclair unearth the real secret at Rennes-le-Chateau, unleashing vast philosophical dilemmas, adventure, danger, and romance.
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This book has an interesting (fictional) premise: What would happen to worldwide Christianity if an ancient document were discovered -- and authenticated -- that negated the most foundational Christian beliefs?

The Magdalene Deception is well-researched, the plot is well-paced, and the blend of fact and fiction is quite satisfying. The glimpses of ambition, greed and even graft within the Vatican are titillating. What failed to work for me was a somewhat wooden prose style, and dialogue that was stilted and formal -- with no stylistic differences between characters (well, with the exception of Father Cal).

Thanks to NetGalley and the publisher, Literati Editions, for an advance readers copy.
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An absorbing thriller, The Magdalene Deception enjoys the subtle touch of a consummate storyteller. As Father Michael Dominic and Hana Sinclair, an investigative reporter for Le Monde, search for secret documents relating to Vatican blackmail payments, they confront challenges from within the Vatican.

Gary McAvoy writes a complicated story with complex characters and authentic relationships. He weaves comprehensive research throughout the story to keep information about the secret’s importance and historical significance in perspective.

Michael’s curiosity begins with a document he finds tucked away in the closed section of the Vatican Archives. As events unfold, Michael meets Hana and finds an ally when the next step in their search involves travel to Paris. Unfortunately, Michael attracts the attention of Cardinal Dante, Vatican Secretary of State, who has an Interpol traitor intercept Michael’s emails so he can keep track of the priest’s progress.

After retrieving and translating the document, an ancient papyrus, Michael, along with Hana, is stunned by the secret it holds. Cardinal Dante employs thugs to steal the material any way they can. McAvoy’s storytelling skill outshines that of most Vatican thrillers to date. A well-conceived plot and a comfortable pace make this a fascinating read.
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This book really surprised me, in a pleasant way.  It has such a plausible story and is truly believable.  It goes into great detail/background and provides a lot of historical information in an interesting way that ties into the story.  Thanks to NetGalley and Gary McAvoy for the ARC
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I must say this was a very interesting read. It held my attention from the the first sentence.  I typically read one chapter a day. This I could not resist to read 4-5-6 at a time. I look forward to the next edition with Fr Dominick. Well done Gary!
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Having read the fascinating study of the Cathars, 'Montaillou' by Le Roy Ladurie and books about Mary Magdalene, I was keen to read this novel. As an avid historical fiction reader, I turned to the back page, not to read the ending of the story (I never do this) but to read the ‘Author’s Note’, where writers say something about their research and reasons for writing. To my surprise, the only citations were two references to Wikipedia. This meant I began the story with serious doubts: Wikipedia is useful starting place for ideas, but rarely offers sound historical data or content in my experience.
'The Magdalene Deception' opens with a ‘faction’ piece of telling regarding a fabled biblical testament then switches to modern day Rome, where a young priest is enjoying his morning run. The fictional aspect of the story is interesting, but there are numerous diversions where the author ‘tells’ the reader about a period in history such as the Napoleonic wars, which have little bearing on the plot or character development. Scenes within the Vatican and the Pope’s summer residence offer some background to the plot, but dialogue is humdrum and characters remain flat throughout. More dramatic scenes, such as the theft of the parchment in the hotel, rely on typical action movie set pieces, complete with an elevator and racing up and down flights of stairs, which was disappointing.
I really wanted to enjoy this story but it did not hold my interest. In his introduction the author says there are many historical facts in the novel: I would love to know what they are.
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This is a Vatican thriller with a believable storyline. The plot builds very slowly with intense action scenes near its conclusion. It is rich or dense (depending on the readers' reaction) with historic facts and speculations, making the story highly credible. Frequently pausing in my reading, I often consulted Wikipedia and Google which caused me to highly admire the author's scholarly knowledge and historical research.  It was well-written but could have used some more lighter moments.

  Michael Dominic grew up and was ordained a Jesuit priest in America. His godfather and father figure is a wise, powerful Roman Catholic Cardinal. Michael is transferred to the Vatican to work in its Secret Archives due to his expertise in ancient writing and codes. While working in the archives, Michael feels there is a connection to Berenger Saulnier, a priest in rural France in the recent past, who may have been blackmailing the Vatican with an ancient papyrus manuscript in his possession.

 The Vatican is well described, with its hidden treasures and writings, the rivalries and ambitions within, and secrets which caused many conspiracy theories to spring up. Michael becomes friends with a Swiss Guard and meets his cousin Hana who is a journalist from a very wealthy Swiss banking family. The military training and experience of the Swiss Guards surprised me. When photographing them in their elaborate, multi-coloured uniforms, I thought these men served a decorative function.

 Hana is pursuing a story that Nazi and Croatian gold is held in the Vatican bank. Gold and other treasures were stolen by the Nazis and Ustasha (an extreme, brutal right-wing group in Croatia) from their victims of genocide proceeding and during WW11. Hana meets with Dr. Ginsberg who is documenting the collaboration of Pope Pius X11 with the Nazis and the role of secreting war criminals out of the country. A vast amount of looted and stolen treasure ended up in Vatican vaults.

 Michael and Hana cooperate and their two investigations begin to coincide. They are followed and spied upon by members of Ustasha. These men are blackmailing an arrogant, intimidating and powerful man within the Vatican and following his cruel orders. Michael and Hana have retrieved the ancient manuscript in France, and are astonished that it is the long-hidden testament of Mary Magdalene which would shake the foundations of Christian belief were it to become known. They have placed themselves in extreme danger.

 I wish to thank NetGalley, publisher, and author Gary McAvoy for this ARC in return for an honest review. I am hoping for further adventures of Father Michael Dominic and Hana. 3.5 to 4 stars.
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I really wanted to like this book, but it felt flat and I could not stay interested. Maybe I should have read more, but I really wasn’t interested.
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I loved this book. The plots are better than most of the conspiracy theory books and the characters more believable and well developed.  Yes, there were 2 plots and the author did a great job of intertwining them into one outstanding story. 

The first plot of course explores the Magdalene and Rennes le Chateau.  The second plot explores the Vatican involvement in the escape of  Nazi war criminals  and the long kept gold and money that the Vatican stored for the Nazi government. Much of the story as the author acknowledges is based on true events but he has obviously used his imagination to reveal what many of us (conspiracy theorists) suspect is the truth about the Magdalene. .His reasoning for why this truth has never been revealed is one that most of us suspect to be true, that its revealing would be devastating for the Catholic Church and Christianity as we know it today. 

One of the long dead characters of this book Berenger Sauniere's mysteries and ties to the Vatican are still of interest today and this particular book brought the mystery to life and solved it in a very satisfying tale. I hope to read more of Gary McAvoy's work and thank Net Galley for the  opportunity to review this book.
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With this book I felt there was a LOT of build up, a lot of backstory, and a lot of intricate information that may or may not have been pertinent to the story. Once you got into the meat of the story, however, it pulls you in a bit more. 

I really enjoyed getting to “visit” the Vatican and learn a little more about what life is like there. The descriptions were vivid and I could feel the heat and humidity outside, and the cool temperature of the archives within the stone walls. 

What I didn’t enjoy was how the characters interacted – there were just some things that happened that would NOT happen within one day of meeting someone. I don’t want to give spoilers, but just know that I enjoyed most of the book, except for the dialogue that was not related to the mystery. 

Overall, a well-researched, slow-burning thriller that I would recommend.

Thank you to NetGalley for allowing me advanced access to this title.  My review is posted on my blog (link below) and my Goodreads account.
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A fun, quick read that is highly reminiscent of The DaVinci Code. The protagonist, Father Michael Dominic, is likeable and realistic. The rest of the characters seemed a little stereotypical and flat, but this doesn’t really take away from the story. Apart from a few times when the characters did some pretty boneheaded things, the author did a good job of heightening suspense throughout, and the revelation of the central mystery of the story felt appropriately significant. One of the most appealing parts of the novel were the settings, which felt realistic and detailed in such a way that I felt transported to those locations.. Overall I enjoyed the book and would read another novel involving these characters.
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