Bestselling author James Rollins and his collaborator, novelist Rebecca Cantrell, take an unorthodox approach to the vampire legend in their first installment of the Order of the Sanguines Series, "The Blood Gospel." (William Morrow, 479 pages)
Following a devastating earthquake in Masada, the Vatican sends Fr. Rhun Korza, a most mysterious man of the cloth, to investigate the ancient ruins of Masada - the fortress that had been the last stand of Jewish resistance to the Romans.
Fr. Korza "summons" an archaeologist, Dr. Erin Granger, and a military man, Sgt. Jordan Stone. The trio unearth a hidden chamber within Masada with a shocking secret - the remains of a young girl clutching a Nazi medal.
The three are attacked by an army of undead, revenants, strigoi -vampires. Legend decreed that this chamber contained a book believed to have been written by the Lord Himself, in His own Blood - the so called "Blood Gospel."
The priest, archaeologist and soldier are sent on a desperate errand to retrieve this lost gospel and save mankind from the overwhelming evil that never dies - the vampire.
In the same vein as Dan Brown's "Da Vinci Code," "Blood Gospel" involves a dark Vatican secret - the Order of the Sanguines. Catholics may take umbrage at the all too literal interpretation of the doctrine of transubstantiation which holds that through the act of consecration, the Lord is truly and substantially present, the bread and wine have been changed substantially into the Body and Blood of Jesus Christ, though in a bloodless fashion.
In the Rollins and Cantrell story, the Sanguines, a religious order of converted vampires, do subsist on the Blood of Christ, which satisfies their desire for human blood. Remember Roman Catholics, this is fiction and should not be taken too seriously.
The team of Rollins and Cantrell do give some vivid descriptions of the sacred sites of the Holy Land and Vatican and their interpretation of the resurrection of Lazarus is imaginative, though highly unorthodox.
For those who never tire of the vampire legend, which has attained a certain literary immortality, here is another tale of the legend of the undead, "The Blood Gospel."