The Petrus Prophecy

A Vatican Secret Archive Thriller - Book 3

Father Jonah Barlow is dead. The respected Jesuit scholar of apocalyptic studies might have died from an accidental fall in his apartment . . . or, was he pushed? All that is known for sure is that the provocative manuscript he was working on—a book that promised to reveal the upcoming fulfillment of ancient and recent prophecies, including the ghastly and shocking Third Secret of Fátima—is missing.

Two female detectives—one from Chicago, the other from Rome—take on the investigation as a possible homicide, turning to Vatican archivist Father Michael Dominic for his help, since Barlow sent the young priest the only other copy of the manuscript.

Meanwhile, a sinister ancient order known as the Knights of the Apocalypse seem to be using the predictions of the manuscript to create fear and chaos as the prophecies appear to be coming fulfilled. Is the end of the world imminent?

From Chicago to Jerusalem to Scotland, from Rome to the ancient island nation of Malta, join Father Dominic, journalist Hana Sinclair, their trusted team of Swiss Guards, a French commando, and the two detectives as they solve the bewildering puzzles of the Petrus Prophecy.

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 The swift, suspenseful third entry in McAvoy’s Vatican Secret Archives series again digs into sinister secrets, conspiracies, and prophecies—and the powerful men who will kill to protect them. At the heart of the mystery is “The Third Secret of Fatima,” the last in a string of proven prophecies, “a sacred mystery, tucked away in that most secure of papal vaults.” If phrasing like that, from the opening pages, seizes your imagination, then The Petrus Prophecy (like McAvoy’s Magdalene Chronicles series) will prove irresistible, especially as popes faint when reading the secret—and, in the novel’s present, a Jesuit scholar in Chicago dies as he’s writing a book that would disclose the Third Secret. The manuscript goes missing, and the investigation that follows will find Chicago police detective Rebecca Lancaster and co. crossing the globe, visiting abbeys and corpses, encountering zealots, riddles, and terrorist plots—and possibly facing a world-ending cataclysm from the heavens themselves.

McAvoy, working with Ronald L. Moore, hits the ground running in this propulsive thriller, which adeptly blends ancient mysteries and secret societies with contemporary procedural storytelling. The clues and surprises come quickly as Lancaster and her counterpart in Rome, the Carabinieri’s captain Sabrina Felici, race about in an old Ferrari that, as Felici puts it, “handles Rome’s chaotic traffic like a dominatrix.” Such character touches and a sense of playful fun keep the material from getting bleak or self-serious, even as the stakes prove biblical in scale.

Devotees of religious-secrets thrillers will find much here that’s engaging, if not exactly novel, as the heroes and their allies attempt not just to solve a murder but to learn the truth of the Third Secret—and eventually face the schemes of the Knights of the Apocalypse, a secret society of immense power who stirs a public frenzy with its revelations. The authors have revelations of their own, the welcome jolts and secrets that distinguish this series.

Takeaway: This superior Vatican conspiracy thriller puts a Chicago cop on the trail of an apocalyptic prophecy.

A “Must Read” 🏆

“Gary McAvoy never ceases to amaze with his stellar writing, one of the reasons I rushed to begin the latest novel in the Vatican Secret Archive series, featuring Father Michael Dominic. As McAvoy collaborates with Ronald L. Moore, they examine yet another mystery housed within the Vatican, while sinister forces seek to push the limits once again. McAvoy and Moore guide readers through a historical event shrouded in secrecy, providing plausible possibilities, which only amp up the level of curiosity. The story of the Secrets of Fatima is one known to many Catholics around the world. When Pope John Paul II revealed the third secret in 2000, he did so to dispel much of the hype that had built up over the past forty years, when his predecessors began refusing to share the secret with the general public. Now, an American priest and scholar is dead, and a group known as the Knights of the Apocalypse (KOTA) claim that the End Times are nigh, as they prepare to reveal the true text of the secret. Father Michael Dominic is pulled into the middle, seeking to find the true document and ensure the sitting pope is privy to its meaning, so that the Church can face its enemies, including those from within. McAvoy and Moore do a sensational job with the action and posit some intriguing possibilities for the reader to synthesise.

When three children saw a vision of the Holy Mother in 1917, their small Portuguese town was put on the map. The Three Secrets of Fatima became one of the major miracles chronicled by the Church. Two of the three secret, depicting premonitions, were revealed, though the third, so shocking and scandalous, was never publicly shared. Popes shied away from it, as its truths, speaking of the End of Days, were too problematic. Seeking to dilute the gossip and wonder, Pope John Paul II shed light on the secret in 2000, though many believe it was a false message meant to extinguish flames of speculation and curiosity.

When a priest and scholar working on a piece about the truth surrounding the Third Secret is found murdered in Chicago, a local police constable cannot help but wonder if there is a Vatican connection. When the name of Father Michael Dominic enters the discussion, said constable is keen to learn more from the man who heads the Vatican Secret Archives. A trip to Rome is in order, where the constable connects with one of her Italian counterparts to open an international investigation.

After approaching Father Dominic, he is just as confused as they are, but soon learns that there is more to the story than meets the eye. During the nefarious past few years, it would seem that the sitting pope was not given access to a key collection of documents, which include the Third Secret of Fatima. All the while, a group calling itself the Knights of the Apocalypse (KOTA) begins broadcasting news that they are in the possession of the Secret and will soon reveal it. This pushes Catholics around the world into a panic and places the Vatican on the defensive.

While Father Dominic and his core team race around Europe to locate a key that will grant the sitting pope access to a safe that contains the true documents, they are followed by those who would rather see them dead. Dominic soon learns how important these documents could be, as well as the importance to obtain the truth before KOTA wrestles control of the Vatican’s trust away from the world at large. What neither Dominic nor the sitting pope can know is just how far some people will go to discredit the Vatican hierarchy once and for all, tied to a handful of men who have been eyeing revenge for years. A brilliant addition to the series, which presents new layers of wonder related to Catholic truths and secrecy within the Holy See.

I have followed Gary McAvoy on this Vatican journey from the opening pages of the debut novel, which gripped me like few other series I have read. Many themes point to a Vatican that remains complex and multi-layered, which mirrors the Catholic Church in general. McAvoy brings Ronald L. Moore in as a collaborator, allowing them to find ways to bring the story to life and create gripping adventures, layered with historical events. The characters grow on the series reader as each story connects seamlessly. The authors provide a great series for all to enjoy, particularly the reader with an interest in all things Vatican.

Father Michael Dominic resumes his role as protagonist of the series, continuing to make his mark. His backstory remains complex and evolving, as series fans have come to discover. Devout in his faith, Dominic enjoys his work within the Vatican Archives, though he finds mysteries outside the walls of the Holy See that keep him constantly on the run. Danger appears to surround him, though he evades it with prowess, rather than pure brawn. The series has moved into some intriguing times, leaving the reader to wonder how Dominic will fit into the larger narrative, particularly with his revelation in the closing pages.

Gary McAvoy has long created a buzz around his stories and the collaborative effort with Ronald L. Moore once again puts the reader in the middle of the action. The narrative develops with each passing chapter, providing mysteries and curiosities sure to leave the reader hungering for more. As the authors intertwiine modern events with historical goings-on, explosive revelations add depth to an already strong foundation. Well-crafted characters, particularly those who reappear and build on their past developments, help create an emotional connection for the reader. While the theme may be the End of Days, once can hope McAvoy (and Moore?) have more to say on the matter, as things have reached a tense point in the series, with an obvious fork in the road towards future developments.

Kudos, Messrs. McAvoy and Moore, for another great piece in the series. You have captivated me yet again!” MATT PECHEY, Reedsy Discovery

“This thoughtfully-composed thriller mystery novel is set around ancient prophecy and the Vatican. The prose is straightforward and thrilling as it propels the action scenes. McAvoy and Moore are seasoned and skilled storytellers, offering a fine blend of action, adventure, and history.”

“Another ARC from my immensely talented namesake, and a particularly exciting instalment to his Vatican mysteries series. As with all Gary’s books, you know exactly what to expect: a likeable, intelligent and virtuously trustworthy team of amateur sleuths; a powerful and arch-criminal nemesis; and an incredible amount of factual research, mixed with creative licence. The only thing you don’t know is which ancient artefact or religious doctrine will be the focus. I have to admit, half a dozen or so books into the series, this group of clerical crime-fighters is really starting to grow on me, and now layers particularly of arguably main character Father Michael Dominic are being peeled back with each outing, I’m liking it.

This time, what is at stake would appear to be the very Apocalypse itself, and the team are not charged with stopping it, so much, as uncovering the potential fraud it obviously is, who is behind it and why. In doing so, they carry out their usual globetrotting and puzzle-solving, all the while with the Vatican as their home base and primary setting. Gary is an extraordinary author, absolutely unique in the respect that I have really come across one so meticulous, so well educated in terms of theology, history and geo-politics. He is the type of professional that the rest of us can only aspire to be, and even helpfully sets out for us in an actually very welcome appendix just what is reality and what is created in his book; it is fair to say that most of us will clearly see just what actual knowledge Gary is sharing with us throughout. Obviously no-one is born with that level of innate knowledge, and most of us don’t graduate with it either, so I think it is fair to say that he has done a tremendous, jaw dropping amount of research into this book, as with all in this series. Sometimes, I’ll admit, these books feel like a showcase for this knowledge and research, particularly geographical, but I say if you have it, flaunt it; and if you don’t have it, learn it. Gary shows us mere mortal writers how fact-based fiction should be done.

Admittedly, the books in the series all adhere to formula, and this is no different: the first half is usually spent building the intrigue and creating the story; the second half is when all the action happens – and Gary does a good job, as always, of incorporating all of his action-oriented cast. This is a pretty good instalment to the saga, and definitely one of my favourites. But, as always with these books, the outstanding, flabbergasting work of the author and his factual-creativity are the real stars. The way he crafts the copiously abundant facts into fiction is quite simply stunning.” MATT McAVOY BOOK REVIEWS (UK) (no relation to author)

“I was thrilled to receive an advance copy of the latest book in the Vatican Secret Archives trilogy. Its author, Gary McAvoy (and his new collaborator, Ronald L. Moore), continues to write compelling action plots, with exciting human drama meshed with a background of obscure, fascinating factual information. 5 Stars!

Father Michael Dominic returns with his friend Hana, a journalist with a talent for solving cryptic puzzles, two dependable Swiss Guards, Karl and Lucas, well trained in military tactics, Hana’s bodyguard and lover, Marco, a former Green Beret and French commando. It is like reuniting with old friends.

They are joined in a frantic adventure by two female detectives, one from Chicago and one from Rome. The women seem quite capable of outmanoeuvring threats. The Italian detective has powerful friends to call on for assistance, whereas the American appears to be intent on flirting with the handsome Father Dominic.

Father Jonah Barlow died when he fell or was pushed down the stairs in his apartment. Missing is a book promising to reveal upcoming results of ancient and recent prophecies, including the third secret of Fatima. It was said to be so frightening that Pope John XXIII fainted when he read it. The warning was considered so shocking that successive Popes kept it locked away in a vault. The present Pope Ignatius (formerly known as Father Petrini) has not read it. The two female detectives believe Father Barlow was murdered before the third prediction of Fatima could be revealed. They contacted Father Michael Dominic, whom Barlow sent the only copy of the manuscript. Michael found the latter part of the book too vague to be helpful.

The keys to the vault have been stolen. A second set is kept with a monk in Jerusalem killed while on the phone with Michael. A sinister fanatical group mixing evangelical belief with Catholicism called the Knights of the Apocalypse seems to be using Barlow’s book to predict the imminent end of the world and spreading fear and turmoil among their followers in a conspiracy to enrich themselves. Do they have the actual Fatima prophecy, or are they using misleading fabricated information? What devious mind is behind the evil plans, and can he be stopped?

The team rushes from Jerusalem to Scotland, Rome, and Malta in an attempt to solve the mysterious secret of the Petrus puzzle and prevent mass hysteria and further deaths. To find the missing keys to the Pope’s vault, they must solve some difficult cryptic clues. Michael’s group is in peril of their lives, being pursued by frantic Knights of the Apocalypse members. Their final plan is to be a diabolical act of mass murder in a shattering conclusion no one could have predicted. Pope Ignatius ( Michael’s godfather, mentor and more) is shot when he tries to deny the apocalyptic teachings at a rally. Later, Father Dominic makes a heartfelt confession to the Pope about an unresolved conflict troubling him.

The Petrus Prophecy is a splendid, fast-paced, intense mystery with plenty of action, well-developed characters, and a vivid sense of place.

This entertaining book can be read as a standalone. Prospective readers would enjoy knowing the main characters better and some of the complex cases and villains they encountered in the past books. I look forward to Father Michael Dominic’s and Hana’s next adventure.” — CAROLYN WALSH, New Brunswick, Canada

“McAvoy has done it again! The Petrus Prophecy the sixth installment in “The Magdalene Chronicles” is a must read, especially if you’re hooked on these characters as much as I am. Father Michael Dominic and gang are back and this time they’re joined by two new detectives. When a priest in Chicago who was working on a manuscript that could reveal the fulfillment of the third of the three secret prophecies, The Secret of Fatima, is found dead, it may not have been an accident. The Chicago investigator handling the case is certain a closer look is just what this case needs. To get to the bottom of this “accident” she’ll need to travel to Rome for answers where she pairs up with a savvy detective with the Rome police who contacts Father Dominic, the Vatican Archivist and the only other person who’s seen a copy of the manuscript the priest was working on prior to his death.

These books are edge of your seat reads that will keep you guessing into the wee hours of the night. You can’t put this one down! Since this is now the sixth book, I feel like I know these characters and have grown to love the “forbidden fruit” relationship between Father Dominic and his friend Hana. Oh, if only he didn’t have that pesky white collar around his neck. But in this one we see another side to their “relationship.” Hana is now interested in another man and Father Dominic seems bothered by it, and when the detective from Chicago shows attraction to the handsome Father, Hana gets bitten by the green-eyed monster herself, so perhaps they aren’t as ready to move on as they thought. I’m staying tuned for more on this storyline!

The keys to the Pope’s secret safe are missing and of course Father Dominic and friends are charged with finding them. As Father Dominic and gang travel from country to country and from one lead to another in hopes of finding the keys, others with ill intent will be right on his heels making sure he doesn’t get too close. And here lies the excitement of these books. Just when you think the good guys are winning, in comes a twist and the whole story changes and this happens repeatedly. It’s a non-stop roller coaster ride of thrills, chills, drama, and intrigue. It’s a chase of good versus evil and when the mastermind is revealed as a former nemesis of Father Dominic’s, well I was shocked. Didn’t see that coming at all!

McAvoy’s research must be exhaustive. The history and facts he shares in this and the other books are Vatican and ancient Catholic Church history at its best. His knowledge on the topic is evident and flows onto the pages with clarity unlike most authors. This author really knows his theology and the Catholic Church specifically. I’ve learned so much from his books about the Catholic Church and the Vatican, both interesting and shocking. Being someone who doesn’t believe in God, I’ve always found these books to be a refreshing change from most books that center around faith, God and/or religion. McAvoy can present both sides without offending anyone. He allows the reader to draw their own conclusions without forcing them to make a choice. I love that Father Dominic questions his own beliefs at times and seems like a real man, not some prophet or holy man without faults. From book one I picked up on his questioning of his faith and its rules and that indecision and reflection continues in this one, but this time he says the quiet part out loud and leaves the reader with a bit of a cliffhanger.

It’s the non-stop action, the back and forth “forbidden fruit” relationship between Hana and Father Dominic, the superior detail McAvoy puts into his writing that describes the scene so well that I can almost see the sights and smell the smells as the characters travel through their days and the thrills and chills of the chase that keep me coming back. This is a series I’m hoping goes on and on. It’s unputdownable, it’s filled with amazing and real characters and the historical facts are icing on the cake for this historical fiction fan! Sign me up, I’m on board for many more books in this series! It’s another 5-star read for me! Happy Reading!”  — KYMM CUMMINS