The Magdalene Deception

Book 1 of The Magdalene Chronicles

A forbidden secret . . . The Church’s fate in the balance . . . Will a pair of amateur sleuths expose a truth that could upend the Christian world? 

The Resurrection is a cornerstone of Christian faith. But when a clue surfaces that hints at an alternate account, the ramifications stand to change Christianity forever.

Jesuit priest Michael Dominic’s assignment to the Vatican’s legendary Secret Archives results in his discovery of a hidden papyrus: the unpublished writings of Mary Magdalene — a lost record buried in Rome’s deepest recesses. The forgotten relic’s heretical revelation threatens the Vatican’s very legitimacy, and pits Michael against ruthless and powerful enemies.

Desperate, he reaches out to Hana Sinclair, an investigative reporter with a record of tackling contentious subjects. Together they defy the Church elite, and embark on a search through the shadows of history to unearth the truth. As the pressure builds to silence the pair, will the Vatican resort to the unthinkable in order to safeguard its wealth and power?

Based on historical facts, this international thriller takes readers on a white-knuckle race through the holy sites of Europe. Get your copy of this bestselling tale and discover why Gary McAvoy’s devoted fans say, “I didn’t want this book to end!”


Published July 1, 2020

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“In this gripping conspiracy thriller, McAvoy applies his love of ancient manuscripts and historical documents to weave a story that spans from the early days of the Catholic Church to the present . . . Welcome historical context is sprinkled throughout the novel, which includes vivid descriptions of real-world celebrations, history-inspired prophecy, ancient texts [and] epic poems . . . Every detail has been carefully curated to immerse the reader in the story, and McAvoy makes sure to leave breathing room for readers to absorb each new piece of information. The rich settings, elegantly described through architecture and antiques, anchor the reader in time and place. Consistent pacing complements the narrative . . . This story brims with intrigue, danger, and the fight for a religion’s soul. Steeped in Vatican and WWII intrigue, this history-rich thriller will appeal to readers eager to unravel conspiracies and explore the past.” — PUBLISHERS WEEKLY/BOOKLIFE

“It’s a well-written novel that, despite the grim stakes, is more entertaining than frightening, more James Bond than Philip Marlowe. You get the feeling you’re under the spell of a writer too dignified to dwell for long in the dark corners of his antagonists. But he thinks you should know that evil exists.” — KEVIN HELLIKER, Pulitzer Prize-winning author and former senior writer for The Wall Street Journal

“Gary McAvoy’s steady, Vatican-set thriller, The Magdalene Deception is an impassioned thriller that’s directed by Church mysteries. Packed with details on the nature of archival work, it’s also a crystalline portrait of persistence.” FOREWORD CLARION REVIEWS

“McAvoy’s novel is fast paced and well-plotted. [With an] alluring setting and appealing premise… McAvoy’s prose is clear, direct, and propels the novel along quickly. It shines when describing the novel’s locations, including the atmosphere inside the Vatican…. The Magdalene Deception is an entertaining and original Vatican thriller with an engaging hero, vivid setting, and suspenseful circumstances.” — THE BOOKLIFE PRIZE 2020

“This is one of those books you start reading in the evening and decide to skip work the next day so you can read all night. This a masterful blend of real history and what-if present day. I found myself several times putting down the book so I could do an online search just to confirm what the author, Gary McAvoy, wrote could even be true. And boy, did I get a history lesson about both the Inquisition and World War II. McAvoy is obviously a student of history and has skillfully woven a tale that began a thousand years ago and continues in this millennium. His attention to detail and superb writing (and excellent command of the language) vividly paints a picture that puts your own imagination into overdrive.”  — GREGORY McDONALD, Amazon Reviewer

“Exquisitely written and highly entertaining, The Magdalene Deception is an investigative mystery in a very similar vein to The DaVinci Code…The real quality to this book is the author himself — the writing is superb. There is an outstanding attention to detail in McAvoy, and the setpieces he weaves are vivid, colourful and authentic; this author treats his audience as intelligent and attentive, and this is always hugely beneficial to any writer. As well as being an evidently well-educated historian, McAvoy also knows his stuff in terms of modern-day information networking and the technology in present day use alongside ancient practices and customs…” — MATT McAVOY BOOK REVIEWS (UK)  (No relation to the author)

“A great thriller that weaves numerous storylines together effectively. Recommended to those who love a good thriller with historical implications, as well as the reader who enjoys Vatican and Catholic politics. McAvoy creates a wonderful story that never stops building throughout. Juggling modern and ancient Church issues, McAvoy does not lose his reader at any point, as his writing is so clear that the attentive reader will likely want more.” — MATT PECHEY, Reedsy Discovery

“This book was absolutely fantastic. The subject matter was clearly well-researched, and the characters compelling, and I like that the author didn’t take the ‘easy way out’ as the characters developed their chemistry. The first couple of chapters were slower paced than what you’d find in a typical thriller, but I don’t count that as a bad thing. It was clear the author was taking time to shape what the reader needed to know. A slow burn burns just as hot. The action picked up and I kept turning the pages until it was over and I was wanting so much more. There was a hint that the story will continue with the characters, and if that’s the case, I will follow along. It’s hard not to compare stories like this with those that became so popular, but I found I liked this book far better than Dan Brown’s The Da Vinci Code.” — KIM CHEEL, NetGalley Reviewer

“If, like me, you find the concept of secret, mysterious Vatican archives and a long tumultuous religious history, mixed with strong characters and moral dilemmas interesting, then this book is for you… For me this is the book’s greatest strength, the time spent developing the characters whilst also letting me go on the journey with them in a way which made it very hard for me to stop reading!” — SANTINO DECARO, NetGalley Reviewer

Amazon Reviews