The Jerusalem Scrolls

A Vatican Secret Archive Thriller - Book 5

In an epic struggle of faith, knowledge and power, the discovery of a mysterious silver scroll in the Judean Desert pits rival factions against one another in a thrilling race to uncover the secrets it holds.

When a mysterious parchment about Jesus Christ’s last days surfaces from a cave in the Judean Desert, a young priest must keep it safe. But dark forces around the world want it for themselves…and they’re breathing down his neck at every turn.

Father Michael Dominic is called to Jerusalem after two Israeli boys dig up an ancient clay jar that hides several scrolls dating back thousands of years, including one that could upend the Church—a manuscript penned by Saint Paul the Apostle himself—an explosive parchment that stands to rewrite religious history.

Father Dominic arrives to authenticate the relic, but his plans are foiled when a mysterious secret sect wants it in their clutches. His mission kicks off a breakneck pursuit through the wild bazaars of Cairo and the holy city of Jerusalem in a desperate attempt to keep the relic from enemies who would use it for their own wicked purposes. Can the priest find a way to preserve history and stay alive, or will the forces of evil prevail?

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Praise for "The Jerusalem Scrolls"

This job isn’t always just prayers and parchments,” Father Michael Dominic quips, as he and his cohort of experts in ancient religious documents and artifacts face a theft, a murder, and a race to unearth “the largest known buried treasure in world history.” So it goes in McAvoy’s fifth book in the Vatican Secret Archives series, which again pits VSA prefect Father Dominic, his wealthy friend Hana Sinclair, and other allies against ancient mysteries and the people today who will kill to protect them. This time, the adventure is kicked off by young men in the Judean Desert finding a cache of scrolls and coins dating back to the mystic Jews called the Essenes, authors of what is known as the Dead Sea Scrolls.

McAvoy, as always, makes such discoveries a thrill, as he blends quick, informative passages on religious history with exciting accounts of the retrieving, handling, and interpretation of artifacts— and, inevitably, the scheming of various parties to claim them for themselves. Readers will not be surprised to learn that a millenia old cult mentioned in the freshly found scrolls—the Mithraists, an early rival of Christianity dedicated to the Roman gods of war and the sun—still thrives and is on the hunt. Also in the mix: an American megachurch preacher in his Gulfstream jet, a high-rolling figure who’s presented with a familiar but effective satiric edge.

As Mossad and the Mithraists enter the fray, revelations, betrayals, and bursts of clever action and suspense follow, all presented with crisp professionalism and McAvoy’s customary light touch. The story builds strong momentum without sacrificing the hallmarks of McAvoy’s genre: the sense of awe and of history remains potent throughout, even amidst the cobra attacks, stun gun maneuvers, and occasional flayings. Quality control remains high in this series, and McAvoy plants seeds, after a winning conclusion, for more adventure to come.

Takeaway: This lost-artifact adventure exemplifies the genre with thrills, history, and a sense of awe. Great for fans of: Steve Berry, Ian Caldwell.

After a number of successful thrillers centred around religious history and antiquities, Gary McAvoy is back with his latest novel. Having been handed an ARC, I was pleased to get an early look at what McAvoy has been planning, as he helps his protagonist, Father Michael Dominic, in yet another adventure that hints at revealing more about the roots of Christianity, with a modern twist. McAvoy is stellar in his delivery and peppers fact and fiction throughout, forcing the reader to pay close attention as they attempt to splice truth from fanciful dream. Surely one of his best novels to date, which will keep series fans rushing back for more!

When two young boys discover a red clay jar in a hidden cave near the city of Qumran, they could not dream of what might be inside. Several scrolls are soon identified as being written by the Essenes two millennia before, depicting events before the Great Jewish Revolt, which includes talk of the Lost Treasures of Solomon, scattered across Jerusalem. All of these discoveries parallel some of the information from the Copper Scroll, found in the Dead Sea region back in 1947. Amongst this new collection is a scroll with writings from St. Paul himself, which could rewrite much of the core beliefs of early Christianity..

After Father Michael Dominic and some of his friends are called to Jerusalem to investigate these scrolls, it becomes clear just how serious things could be. While not on a mission for the Vatican, there is a sense of decorum and Dominic brings all the passion from his past adventures into this one. While Dominic and a long-time friend from his seminary days want to examine the scrolls and learn how the findings could influence Christianity and the Church, there are others in play who have a mission all their own.

A small sect known as the Mithraists—the chief rival to Christianity in the region until the fourth century—wants nothing to do with the scrolls or their findings and takes it upon itself to ensure it is lost forever. A televangelist with personal ambitions arrives in the region to ensure that he alone will bring the news of a new angle to Christianity and house the scrolls in his personal museum. Even the Isaraeli and Egyptian governments weigh in, wanting their piece of the pie. All this while Father Dominic tries to stay one step ahead of those with nefarious intentions.

With action and adventure, peppered with moments of dire trouble and dangerous clashes with those who will stop at nothing for their own outcome, Father Michael Dominic must discover what St. Paul had to say and how it could redefine Jesus and the heart of Christianity into the 21st century. Gary McAvoy does a sensational job in yet another thriller that is sure to leave the reader excited to see where things are going and exhausted from the journey found herein.

When I first discovered the work of Gary McAvoy, I was eager to see how an author would depict something with clear Christian undertones without making it preachy. Not only has McAvoy nailed the thriller genre, but his use of religious and regional history is highly educational without getting ‘soap box sermon-like’. McAvoy wants to educate and show the reader how much we don’t know, which he does through the guise of using Father Michael Dominic’s curiosities for all things historically Christian. There is nothing like a McAvoy story to leave the reader with many questions, as they flip to the back to see just how much is fact and where McAvoy uses creative freedoms.

The narrative flow of this book is not only strong because it points the way, but also because of its rich depiction of all things historical. There is so much to learn about the three Abrahamic religions, as well as the region where it all began. McAvoy imbues his stories with this and helps the reader grasp the intensity of the scrolls’ discovery, as well as the overall impact on many things. Strong characters, each of which flavour the piece in their own way, offer some great contrasts between the differing cultures and mindsets, be it about antiquities in general or regional politics and the possession of sacred knowledge. Plot twists occur throughout and find themselves wrapped in historical events, as well as moments when the thrills are at their highest. McAvoy has a wonderful handle on it all, yet is able to compact things into a quick read that many readers will devour in short order. For those who have yet to discover Gary McAvoy, this is your chance to do so. Start from the beginning to get the proper context and let your imagination soar as you deserve just how little Christianity in 2023 relates to things at the time of its inception.

Kudos, Mr. McAvoy, for another stellar ride through history and proof that there is so much we have yet to truly know about those early days in the Holy Lands. — MATT PECHEY, Reedsy Discovery

When you read Gary McAvoy, you are reading quality. This incredibly conscientious fiction author clearly has a passion for theology, and every page – almost every line – seems a showcase for the sheer amount of hard work and research he has put into his writing. I don’t know the cultural or historical accuracy of what he writes, but I am absolutely going to take his every word for it. Whether it is geo-politics, theology, military organizations or papal administration, McAvoy presents as an expert in the subject and, if we’re being frank, this factual minutiae is always the real star of his work, more so even than the mystery stories he weaves – which are themselves pretty impressive.

McAvoy has a formula: present the artefact, introduce the antagonists, tangle together a mystery then throw his beloved protagonists into intrigue and danger – and the danger is perhaps greater in this book than any other in the series to date, as our heroes look as close to breaking point as they have ever been. There is, to some degree, a slightly darker aspect to The Jerusalem Scrolls, as Father Michael Dominic and his friends are pushed to their breaking point, facing brutality previously reserved for more peripheral characters. Whilst the artefact – ancient silver scrolls containing a phenomenal legacy, as well as a well-hidden religious secret – is more valuable than ever before, the book is perhaps not the best in the series. But, as always with my namesake, it is pretty damn good. McAvoy weaves mystery and intellect like few other authors; if you like Dan Brown, you’ll love this. And he is certainly no lesser quality as an author; his attention to detail and writing proficiency are as good as it gets.

I highly recommend the entire series, to be honest, if rousing, action-packed mystery suspense thrillers are your cup of tea, and, whilst not essentially important, they are best read in order. Whilst this isn’t the most gung-ho, it is as worthy an entry into the series as any others. And, as for Gary, he just gets more and more hands-on, as if trying to outdo and better his own work ethic and knowledge with every instalment. Perhaps it has reached the point where the occasional tweak in the formula would be welcomed, and maybe even kill off a major character or two in a major series shock, for I feel that he has plenty of these globetrotting, swashbuckling, academic-based stories left in him; indeed, as many as there are priceless artefacts in the world. — MATT McAVOY REVIEWS, MJV LITERARY SERVICES, UK (no relation to author)

Gary McAvoy’s latest novel in the Vatican Secret Archive series of absolutely amazing and unforgettable thrillers, The Jerusalem Scrolls, is without a doubt his best novel to date! I plowed through Scrolls! Everything clicked into place when I started reading, his prose style, his impeccable research (I haven’t read about Mithraism since reading MLK, Jr.’s Study in college!), the introduction of his first female villain – yeah, and as usual where a Gary McAvoy novel is concerned, I could go on and on and on, but for me, the best part of reading this novel (and his others in this series), is the heart of it all: the search for ANCIENT BIBLICAL TREASURE!!! For whatever reason I cannot get beyond my love for anything hidden, forbidden, ancient, biblical, and/or treasure-related! BLING!! The action was exciting, dangerous, and non-stop with a little romance thrown in (once again I thought F. Michael and Hana would…). As usual, I had to remind myself that the wonderful characters that fill these novels are NOT real people, even though every single one has become a part of my being now, they are purely fictitious! One of my all-time favorite characters (for some unknown reason) is the Jewish scholar, Simon Ginzberg, who has an expanded role in Scrolls. Simon has a very mysterious aura about him that I want explored more, along with his significant knowledge base. And, while I am ordering up the next few volumes of this series that I want to read, LOL, I LOVED Sarah, the female villain! Villainess? She was a delightful addition to the wicked company of Cardinal F. Dante and his half-brother Johann Kurtz, among others.

Every one of Mr. McAvoy’s signature tells was on full display in this novel. The fact that I could enter any one of the countries, cities, towns, airports, government buildings, et cetera, described in any Gary McAvoy novel and navigate my way around as though I was native-born is not the least bit surprising, and the Holy Land and surrounds is now no exception. I venture to say I could feel the heat bouncing off the arid, dusty, confines of the prison yard they visited as well as the burning of my skin when the sun beat down mercilessly on me as I watched. I knew exactly how the lamb with myrtle sauce and the yellow/purple baby Polignano carrots (not at all as sweet as I prefer) tasted like when Hana chose that dish at La Pergola. And I could feel the mystery, majesty, and holiness as they entered the Church of Saint George in Madaba and stepped carefully around the mosaic tiled floor map before them. Their whispers went through me as they tried hard to convey the urgency of exiting without being noticed or followed. The most compelling part of any novel by this incredible storyteller is reliving the history so effortlessly laid out in each novel in exacting details that are interesting and integral to the telling of the tale! Is there anyone on the planet who has not heard of the Dead Sea Scrolls and their significance to our world today? Well, there are purportedly many, many more waiting to be discovered. And in this novel, more are found, and their contents have the power to shatter our beliefs in Christianity! — JEANNE JABOUR, Esq., Advance Reviewer

Fast-paced, action-packed, and filled with plot curves, Gary McAvoy’s latest thriller, The Jerusalem Scrolls, continues the adventures of Vatican priest Michael and his trusty reporter friend, Hana, as they unravel centuries’ old mysteries after the discovery of ancient Biblical scrolls. As with the other books in this series, McAvoy weaves fascinating historical information with the storyline as the characters move from one ancient location to another on their quest to secure missing parchments that contain potentially jarring religious information. I have read all of the books in this series, and this one is fantastic. I could not stop reading it! — FRAN LIBRA KOENIGSDORF, Honors English teacher, Kansas