The Galileo Gambit

A Vatican Secret Archive Thriller - Book 6

Father Michael Dominic, prefect of the Vatican Secret Archives in Rome, is entrusted with the mission of transporting the original 17th-century trial documents of Galileo to Loyola Law School in Chicago. The stage is set for a modern historical moot courtroom trial of Galileo’s original heresy charges, commemorating the 400th anniversary of the legendary event.

In this riveting reenactment, Galileo’s fate lies in the hands of the Vatican’s current chief prosecutor—a cunning bishop from the Dicastery for the Doctrine of the Faith, and his defense, a distinguished law professor harboring a mysterious past. All the while, the Pope’s deteriorating health has the Roman Curia on edge, as ambitious contenders jockey for position in the anticipated papal election.

But the plot thickens when priceless historical exhibits vanish the night before the trial! With no time to lose, Father Michael’s team is forced to divide and conquer, pursuing every lead to recover the stolen treasures. As they face perilous twists and turns, they must also contend with shadowy plots from rival factions.

The stakes are high as Father Michael and his team race against time to uncover the truth behind this pulse-pounding mystery. With hidden agendas emerging from the shadows and help materializing from the most unexpected sources, loyalties are put to the ultimate test. Hold onto your seats and prepare for a tense ride as Father Michael courageously battles to unravel the enigmatic conspiracy known as The Galileo Gambit.

June 2023

Published June 1, 2023

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Praise for "The Galileo Gambit"

“Returning for another Father Michael Dominic story, Gary McAvoy dazzles once more. As McAvoy utilises the insights of Ronald L. Moore to enrich the story, the reader is treated to another stunning story, steeped in history, religious perspective, and thrilling development. When Father Dominic is invited to Chicago to attend a legal conference with a modern retrying of Galileo for heresy against the Catholic Church, things take a significant turn and old wounds are opened once more. With more enemies than Father Dominic can count, the action is sure to grow exponentially as the danger mounts. McAvoy does a stellar job and his foundation is only strengthened by Moore’s addition.

When Father Michael Dominic receives a call about attending a legal conference in Chicago, he is quite excited. As Prefect of the Vatican Secret Archive, he is in possession of many documents the Church holds dear, including a collection of trial documents from Gallileo’s heresy charges, which happens to be the theme of the conference. On the 400th anniversary of the event, Loyola College hopes to reinvigorate the debate into the scientist’s trial and have a new jury pronounce his guilt or innocence.

Travelling with a small retinue, which includes his close friend, Hana Sinclair, Father Dominic makes his way across the Atlantic, hoping that he will be able to see the law in action. Heading up the Church’s case is a bishop for the Dicastery for the Doctrine of the Faith—the modern term for Inquisition—who has a mysterious past and an apparent vendetta. When the documents are stolen, many wonder who could be behind it all and for what means. While the trial is still moving forward, Father Dominic cannot spend too much time worrying, as he is pulled in other middle of a blindsiding cross-examination. It appears this is meant more to discredit him than prove the Gallileo angle. With a photo being scandalously misinterpreted and Father Dominic’s parentiage the fodder for gathering gossip, he finds himself caught in a web.

All the while, the pope’s health is deteriorating back in Rome and it may only be a short tie before he is gone. He worries for Father Dominic, watching events unfold in Chicago. Tossed into the mix is a televangelist who will stop at nothing to get his hands on some of the valuable Galileo artifacts, in order to show his own perspective on Catholic handling of religious events over the years. All while the collection from the Vatican remains lost. Someone lurks in the shadows with a plan that could bring Father Dominic and the Vatican to its knees. A stunning story that keeps McAvoy and Moore in the driver’s seat, while series fans are left to wonder what could be next.

There have been few series that have captivated my attention like Gary McAvoy’s Vatican Archives. Over the years, I have slowly been introduced to the likes of Father Michael Dominic, Hana Sinclair, as well as a core group, all of whom find themselves on many adventures around the world, pertaining to secret items within the Vatican’s archives. The authors keep the narrative moving effectively and provide wonderful pathways to strong storytelling through this foundation. The characters, many of whom are returning from book to book, enrich the story with their own development, while others continue to cast shadows of deception and doubt. This provides great contrast and allows the author to keep the thrills high. While the plot twists are many, the core struggle is clear from the outset, matched with some historic event that is retold and explained through the modern lens. McAvoy and Moore do a fabulous job pulling history and moder interpretations together, allowing the reader to bask in the best aspects of both. At the heart of it all is the trial, which takes a few liberties, but pushes someone fo the tenets raised by the Church all those years ago, while turning things into a Kangaroo Court to destroy Father Domenic. As I have said before, these books are less about the inculcation of religious beliefs on the reader than showing how the power of the Church and Christianity can still bend people in certain direction. A formidable addition to the series that has me wanting more and to see just how Father Dominic will handle some of his most recent struggles.

Kudos, Messers. McAvoy and Moore, for never taking your collective foot off the literary gas!”MATT PECHEY, Reedsy Discovery


“This is the most thrilling, exhilarating, thought-provoking and suspenseful addition to the series of terrific historical adventures and mysteries…I admire how the principal characters continue to develop in a deep and believable manner. Minor characters from the past return and play a more substantial role. Even the most deluded or evil are fascinating. The books can be enjoyed by people of any religious background and beliefs, or having none at all…The book contains violence, explosive action, heart-pounding moments of tension, greed, theft, and coercion that kept me intrigued and riveted to my seat, and also acts of friendship, kindness and loyalty. The ending was heartwarming and satisfying. Highly recommended.” — CAROLYN WALSH, Canadian Reviewer


“I have read all of McAvoy’s novels and I think this may be the best one yet. That’s probably because I have degrees in physics and theology and I have long been a student of the intersection of science and Scripture, the topic explored in this novel. The plot centers on the particular conflict that arose from the Catholic Church declaring as truth their interpretation of Scripture, that the earth was at the center. That did not correspond with what Galileo and earlier, Copernicus, observed, the sun being at the center. While the issue here is with the Catholic Church, I have seen the same kinds of conflict with Protestant declarations.

I like how McAvoy has taken this important issue and woven an engaging plot around it. Unlike the previous novels in this series, there is some suspense but Michael is not involved in very much of it. I like that as it allowed more of a focus on the Church and science issue as well as Michael as an individual and priest. There is a serious attack on his character and getting closer to the end of the novel had me holding my breath.

I appreciate McAvoy identifying fact and fiction in an afterward. I appreciate that most of the information about Galileo was factual. I liked learning some history from this novel. While it is down the line in series of novels featuring priest Michael, it reads well on its own and would be a good one to read to be introduced to how McAvoy blends history and intrigue in his novels.

My rating: 5/5 stars.” — JOAN NIENHUIS, Professional Reviewer, Top 1% of Goodreads Reviewers