Author: Simon Tolkien
ISBN: 978-0-312-53907-8

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A very intricate English mystery of deceit and treachery that includes a very interesting puzzle with origins that go back to Christ's death on the cross.
 
The story begins in 1944 Normandy during World War II when Colonel Cade and two of his men are looking for a book that describes the place where they will find the Cross of St. Peter, a historical religious relic that was made from the original wood of the cross that Christ was crucified on and later embedded with precious stones.  They find the book but the place where it was taken from was burned to the ground and they had to leave France without ever looking for the cross.
 
The story then jumps ahead to 1959.  Colonel Cade, now a private citizen, and a noted historian from Oxford College is found dead in his study.  His youngest son, Stephen is arrested for the murder as all the evidence points to him.  The Colonel has decided to turn his estate into a museum to display old historical manuscripts and to disinherit his two sons, Stephen a natural son and Silas, who was adopted.  Stephen had lived away from his family for many years but, had recently come home when he was told by his brother that there would be no inheritance for either of them.  It so happens that when he came home to speak with his father that was the night that his father died.  There were others in the manor house that night and they each have a story to tell.  It is revealed that Colonel Cade and his men, one of which now lives in the manor house with his wife, were involved in a search for the Cross of St. Peter during the war.  This group in the manor is really a motley bunch.  They include Ritter the former soldier and his wife; Sasha who was helping Cade to catalog his manuscripts; Silas the adopted son who is an amateur photographer; and Mary Martin who is Stephen's girl.  These people all have secrets in their past that have to do with the Cross.  Also, Detective Inspector Trave who investigated the crime and has taken a liking to Stephen and is trying to delay the trial so he can look for more evidence against someone else.
 
This book is an excellent family drama/thriller.  A psychological mystery that includes an excellent puzzle on how to find this famous religious relic that has been lost for ages.  (A bit like the DaVinci Code but, different)  You have a World War II story, plus a courtroom drama that is sometimes a bit tedious and a historical riddle to solve.  A wonderful story of allegiance and/or betrayal.  An excellent read.

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