Sanctus by Simon Toyne, a first time novelist, is the latest in a long line of church based conspiracy books that began with the Da Vinci Code. Set in Turkey in the present day, the book tells the story of the Citadel, a Vatican like city/state that occupies the ancient city of Ruin. The Citadel is the home of a secret religious sect that guards the "Sacrament." No one knows exactly what the sacrament is because in its more than 1,000 years of existence no one has ever come out of the Citadel. Novitiates enter and become Sancti but no one ever comes out and lives to tell the tale. And once the monks learn the secret of the sacrament, they stay inside until they die.

The story opens on 3 continents. In Ruin, a monk climbs to the top of the mountain the Citadel is built into. He assumes the shape of a cross - standing upright with his arms stretched out at his shoulders. In the U.S. Liv Adamsen, a reporter is transfixed by the acts of the monk, whom she believes might be her relative. In South America, an old man is also interested in the monk, only he believes the monk's behavior portends something momentous.

The story races through the lives of the monk, Adamsen and Kathryn Mann, a foundation worker and daughter of the old man. The three meet up in Ruin, each arriving for their own reasons. Conspiracies abound - with the Citadel on one side seeking to keep the secret of the sacrament safe and on the other side an international brotherhood, just as ancient, determined to let the secret of the sacrament become public.

What makes this book worth reading though is the ending. Yes, the monks are creepy and there are secrets to be discovered but what the monks have been protecting and how it relates to Adamsen and Mann was surprising. This is a good work by a new author and it's the first in a planned trilogy.

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