“As the screams of the dying rose up toward the desert sun, Bernad’s bone-white finger clutched the cross hanging from his neck. The touch of its blessed silver seared his sword-calloused palm, branding his damned flesh. He ignored the smell of his charred skin and tightened his grip. He accepted the pain. For this pain had a purpose – to serve God.”

So begins, Innocent Blood, the latest novel by master storyteller James Rollins. The story sounds a lot more exciting than his veterinarian practice he gave up so that he could write full time. It is the third book in The Order of the Sanguines, each of which he has co-authored with Rebecca Cantrell. “Rebecca Cantrell is the MULTIPLE award-winning author of the Hannah Vogel mysteries (A Trace of Smoke),” states Rollins on his website. “I’ve been a fan of her work from before her first book was published.”

“Jim called to ask me if I was interested in collaborating on a project. When I asked for details, he said he couldn’t give me any,” says Rebecca. “I asked if he could answer yes or no questions, which brought a ten-second pause before he totally caved and told me everything about The Blood Gospel. Obviously he was not meant to withstand that kind of brutal interrogation.”

As with the first two books, the theme is a mash-up of science, myth and religion – subjects that Rollins finds fascinating. Innocent Blood begins on a ranch in California where a vicious attack pulls Erin Granger, an archaeologist, back into the world of the Sanguines, a strange “immortal” order that protects the world from strange beasts. The group follows their orders from the “blood gospel,” which was supposedly written by Jesus but had been lost for many, many years. The story also features a boy believed to be a former angel. The story also features Army Sergeant Jordan Stone and Father Rhun Korza, also featured in the previous stories.

Apparently, the story came about after Rollins was visiting an art museum and he was struck by a painting by Rembrandt. “The Raising of Lazarus,” based on the biblical story, looked odd to Rollins as the people in the painting who watched Christ’s miracle, looked on with horror. This led his down a rabbit hole about early Catholicism and vampirism. In a grand mystery /adventure, the story will take the main characters all across the world including the Holy Land, the catacombs of Rome and even hell itself.

Not too surprising, Rollins has his share of fans and anti-fans alike. “I think any book that touches upon Catholicism and proposes an alternate view of religious history, especially in regard to the life of Christ, is going to be compared to Dan Brown’s book,” he said recently in an interview for The Big Thrill magazine. “And while I expect some controversy to be raised by the central theme of this series, I think Rebecca and I were careful to show all sides.  This book is both profane yet also deeply religious—not an easy line to tread. It will be up to the readers themselves to decide how to ultimately cast this book:  Is it blasphemous or devout?”

The New York Times bestselling author’s works, 30 in all, have been translated into more than 40 different languages. His original works have been hailed by fans and critics alike.

The Huffington Post stated that after Michael Crichton passed away in 2008, he passed his baton to Rollins who he considered to be a fellow renaissance man. NPR has called Rollin’s work as “adventurous and enormously engrossing” and the New York Journal of Books says: “If you’re a fan of smart, entertaining adventure fiction, this is your summer beach read writ large…All the science, all the history, and all the locations are masterfully intertwined. The characters are multi-dimensional. And the story is, well, a corker.”

Still, not everyone is a fan of the writer. In a post titled, “Unimpressed with James Rollins” on his blog, Victus Letum, Jason Franklin states:

“At the start of this book Rollins makes certain claims regarding the accuracy and factualness of artwork described, historical trail, etc. The man can’t even get names of biblical books correct, much less the content of Jewish and Christian scripture (and why didn’t his editor catch this). While Rollins never explicitly claimed his description of biblical content was factual he did state, ‘The historical trail revealed within these pages is accurate.’ Yet in describing this “historical trail” he misquotes, twists and outright fabricates portions of Jewish and Christian scripture. His understanding of early Christian history is also seriously flawed. Half a day in any decent public library will reveal this.”

In addition to writing, James Rollins is the founder of Authors United, a group of bestselling authors who are dedicated to raising funds and awareness for USA Cares, a nonprofit that seeks to help soldiers and their families with job placement, housing assistance and emergency aid.

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