Blood of the Lamb by Sam Cabot
Blood of the Lamb by Sam Cabot (Blue Rider Press; 432 pages; $27.95).
While in Rome, American Jesuit priest Thomas Kelly is called upon to reclaim a centuries-old document stolen from the Vatican. An enigmatic letter leads him to the work of a 19th century poet, where Thomas discovers cryptic messages that might lead to the missing manuscript. His search is unexpectedly entwined with that of Italian art historian Livia Pietro, who tells him that destructive forces are threatening to expose the document’s contents. As they’re relentlessly chased through the heart of Rome by mysterious men who quickly demonstrate they would cross any line to obtain the document for themselves, it becomes clear to Livia and Thomas that the pages hold a deep, devastating, long-buried truth. Livia, though, has a secret of her own: she and her People are vampires. But all this pales in light of the Secret that Thomas and Livia discover together—a revelation more stunning than either could have imagined.
A satisfying conclusion cannot save this meandering monstrosity. I was so excited to read what looked to be a most promising historical thriller, especially when Blood of the Lamb has been compared to one of my favorite tales, The Historian. Alas, my time would have been better spent re-reading Elizabeth Kostova’s 2005 page-turner.
Sam Cabot does not actually exist, and to call him the author is a bit misleading. The name is a pseudonym for two writers, S.J. Rozan and Carlos Dews. I am almost willing to bet that Rozan would take a section and then Dews would take a section. That would explain why some parts are highly engrossing and others fall short. At times, the story even loses focus.
Especially given its bulky cast of narrators. Good writers know that not every character should be a narrator. There are main characters and then there are bit parts. Sam Cabot seems not to know the difference. Every single character in Blood of the Lamb functions as a narrator at some point in the story. And that’s a big mistake. Many of these individuals are simply not significant enough to the tale to serve as storytellers. They bring nothing to the account and do not add a single thing to the book.
My best advice is to skip this novel altogether. It’s a shame really, because I love stories that weave history with a thriller. If that is what you are looking for, why not pick up Steve Berry’s The King’s Deception instead?