Monday, February 10, 2014

Book Review and ebook Giveaway: The Shroud Key by Vincent Zandri

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Welcome to our stop on The Shroud Key book tour!

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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.

Read and Excerpt:
“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.


We've reviewed Vincent's books before and I have to tell you this one is definitely my favorite so far! I literally could NOT put this book down until I had reached the end! Vincent actually went to Cairo researching info for this book, during the last year's Spring uprisings! That type of determination is very evident in this book- Baker reminds me of Spencer- the hard boiled detective ladies man, crossed with Indiana Jones (archaeology adventures await- and that is the perfect combination for a new characters that you will be begging Vincent for more books on! There are so many twists and turns, that you're not sure WHO to trust, character wise, and who is the good guy and who is the bad guy. Vincent also gives you some great historical background along the way, a la Dan Brown, that may get you to wondering and researching yourself! This book would be an epic movie and I hope the rights get picked up! Don't miss this book!

About the Author
Vincent Zandri is the No. 1 International Bestselling Amazon Kindle author of numerous books, and bestselling digital shorts. 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 on FacebookTwitter, his Blog and on his Website

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1 comment:

  1. I do enjoy a thriller with twists and turns, especially one visual enough to be considered for a film adaptation. Thanks so much for sharing your thoughts with us on this book.


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