Cover Image: The Vatican Secret

The Vatican Secret

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Member Reviews


Honestly, these types of books (secret society, have to decipher clues as they run around famous places) are like crack for me. So it was a good bet I was going to enjoy this one, and I did. Was it perfect? No. I think we needed a couple more chapters from Marduk's POV in the second half of the book. He pretty much disappears for the last 30 or 40% of the book. I also thought the ending was quite rushed. Overall, though, this was just an entertaining read and I look forward to seeing what these characters get up to in the next book! 

**ARC Nia NetGalley**
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I was really excited to read this book since it was touted for lovers of The Da Vinci code, but did not find them to comparable at all. The Vatican Secret was a very slow burn and I found it difficult to get engaged & connect with the characters. The writing was overly deliberate and verbose to the point that I had to stop reading at points because it was boring. The ending was a let down and there are a lot of unfinished plot points. If I were not reviewing this as an ARC, it likely would have been  DNF for me. Thank you to @NetGalley & @AvonBooksUK for the ARC in exchange for my honest opinion.
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Thank you to Netgalley and the publisher for allowing me to read an advance copy of this book. I found it hard to get into and didn't finish it. Maybe I will come back to it sometime.
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I've read many books by David Leadbeater and have enjoyed them all. This one was no different. His books are faced pace and easy to read. Great characters that are easy to root for. I highly recommend this book.
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Lots of elements that I love in books but didn't quite come together for me. 
The treasure hunt aspect was solved quite quickly and the action was a bit too much. Some of it was too implausible. 
Interesting characters that might evolve as the series develops.
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Ex-MI5 agent Joe Mason finds himself on the hunt for The Book of Secrets, Vatican’s most treasured possession, when it’s stolen by the Amori. The Amori is a secret society that believes that the book has a proof that will brikg down the Catholic Church and Vatican to its knees. Mason, together with a band of misfits,  race around the world to seek the location of Amori and stop them from revealing the destruction of Christianity as we know now.

This can made into a good movie with all the action-packed scenes, shootouts, hand combats as they chase the bad guys around the world. But if that is repeated five times over, it gets over-kill. The plot is interesting but when the secret is revealed early it lose the suspense as you read towards the end.  It also lacks that earth shattering revelation.  The scenarios look superficial and lack in depth. While it’s interesting that histories and ancient cities are use as references here, it fails to deliver the excitement that Da Vinci Code offered.

Thank you to Netgalley and Avon Books UK for the advance e-ARC in exchange for an honest view.
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This was my first time reading this author.  This is the first in a mystery/thriller series.  I am looking forward to reading more in the series.
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This is a page turning thrill that I really enjoyed. Thanks to NetGalley for a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. Keeps you thinking and enjoying the nice pace!
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I was gripped right from the beginning. I loved the adventure and history of this story. The characters are well written and keep the plot moving along nicely. 

This is the first in a new series that you will not be dissapointed with.
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A fast-paced, adventure-packed, non-stop fight for survival, balanced with a great team dynamic of real characters.  I was absolutely captivated by the atmosphere, and the characters...
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Wasn't sure what to expect with this novel but overall enjoyed the read. Leadbeater keeps the read thinking on whats next. Mason was complex enough of a character to enjoy the development
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This book is for lovers of stories like The Da Vinci Code, lots of action, story pivotal to religion and a stoic hero or two.  Joe Mason has a military career that killed his friends and destroyed his marriage.  He now works for a private security firm, and is sent to Vatican City as the personal protection of a researcher, Professor Rusk who along with his daughter Sally as a research assistant, has been granted access to the Vatican archives.
While on duty with his fellow security person Roxy (a woman he is trying to figure out), someone breaks into the archives and steals a well guarded secret book.  The chase is then on.  Joe and Roxy soon form an alliance  as they set off on a journey with the daughter of the researcher, Sally trying to piece together clues to lead them to the book. 
The story moves through Israel, Paris and Iraq at a cracking pace.  There are multiple 'car chase' scenes and each time our heroes seem to bounce back only to come up against the next obstacle.  
Happy to recommend to anyone that likes a fast paced, thriller. Thank you Netgalley and Avon Books UK for the opportunity to read this digital ARC.
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This is the first book in the Joe Mason series and follows Mason as he is tasked with being a body guard for a professor and his daughter.  They plan to spend a few days in the vaults of the Vatican, studying the dusty tomes.  For an ex-MI5 operative like Mason, the job sounds dull and below his skill set.  However, soon Mason and his clients find themselves caught in the crossfire of a clandestine group stealing the Vatican's most treasured possession - a book of secrets.  Now, Mason and the rag-tag crew he assembles are on a race across countries to find this group before they can reveal the book's secrets and, potentially, bring down Christianity as we know it.

On NetGalley, this was described as Dan Brown meets Jack Reacher and I could 100% see that is what Leadbeater was going for.  Unfortunately, I think the combination ended up not quite hitting what I was looking for on either end (but this would vary reader to reader). With this being the first book in a series, there was a good amount of character set up and introduction.  The way the book ends, it sounds like we will follow multiple of these characters into the next book in the series, not only Mason.  I did read an ARC so maybe some things have changed for the final version, but I found the beginning really rough and a bit hard to get through but by the last 1/3 of the book, I was invested and I think I would read on in the series in the future.

The most successful part, for me, was by far the action sequences.  Leadbeater is phenomenal at writing clear and thrilling chase sequences, shootouts, and hand to hand combat scenes.  I don't read a ton of 'action' books but the action scenes we get in most thrillers pale in comparison. I found Leadbeater's writing style to be incredibly straightforward on a line by line basis, but each line builds on the previous one and come together perfectly.  We are mostly following Mason during these altercations but Mason is constantly tracking and checking on his allies so we do get some pretty crowded scenes.  However, I never once had to backtrack or re-read a section to figure out who was doing what.  Also, the scenes themselves were varied enough that they never felt repetitive despite the majority of this book being these action scenes.  These scenes all read very cinematic to me and if this book was made into a movie, I'm pretty sure they could just do a shot-by-shot copy of the action scenes and it would be fantastic.

I really enjoyed the dual POV aspects of the book but they did mean some of the mystery aspects were gone.  The book opens with the leader of the secret group organizing the theft on the Vatican. From there, we're mostly following Mason and his group, but we do continue to get chapters following the leader of this group.  This felt very similar to The DaVinci Code where we get the occasional short chapter from the antagonist perspective but in that book those chapters still had a good amount of mystery to the reader.  We weren't sure who, exactly, the antagonist was or what they wanted.  In the case of The Vatican Secret, we basically get the villain monologue right from the beginning so there isn't much mystery left for the reader.  It was moderately interesting, at first, to follow the 'bad guys' in their planning but the stakes weren't really high enough for me to really feel drawn into that plot line. 

I really grew to like the characters by the end of the book, but the journey to get there was a bit rough.  The characters all have their own baggage that was pretty significant, especially given the backgrounds of the characters (most ex-military in some form).  I could see what Leadbeater was going for with these backgrounds and how the current situation would build on the backstories of each of the characters.  However, these backgrounds never felt like they really came into play during the action portions of the story.  Instead, they seemed to only come up when there was a lull in the action like when they are traveling to their next destination.  Knowing the backstories now, I would have expected that the characters would have been much more dramatically affected by them and they would have had a direct impact on the current plot.  For example, one character is described as being a rumored alcoholic and we see them drink pretty large quantities on page often but it never hinders that character's performance.  Which, sure, that could be seen as the character being so good at what they do that they know their limits, but when we get the reason for the drinking, that doesn't explanation doesn't really work.  Also, these characters felt like they were way more open with their backgrounds than I was expecting them to be especially considering the circumstances.  By the end of the book, we have most of the down and dirty details of all the characters which makes me wonder what else, character-wise, will be revealed in later books in the series.  I think if some of these reveals were turned down a notch or two, it would have given the reader a good enough idea of some aspects while also still leaving a bit of mystery to be revealed in later books.  All that being said, the group of characters Mason puts together worked really well and had fantastic chemistry.  There were some really great banter moments and I thought the slow team building was done really well. 

The pacing was all over the place which made this a rough read.  The action sequences were really fast paced but then once our characters escaped the situation, the pacing ground to a halt.  Then the characters would sit around just long enough to get some character explanation in and then we'd be on to another action sequence.  Now, of course the book can't be all action start to finish, but the sudden start/stop of the pacing was really jarring.  For example, our main group would walk into an area where they needed to find something and everything would be nice and calm until suddenly once of them would spot someone who looked suspicious and then it was an instant chase scene until our main characters get away and then they're suddenly back at the hotel ordering room service. A bit more lead in or calm down period would have smoothed out these pacing changed much better.  

The mystery elements and clues they had to follow to find the clandestine group were, honestly, pretty boring.  The steps were the same at each new place they went and then when they found the clue, they'd hide out somewhere so the one character could dig through some research before putting the pieces together and announcing to the group where the next clue would be.  In this story, Mason is literally just hired muscle so I understand why he doesn't have all this background knowledge on historical landmarks or facts.  However, since we are only in Mason's POV, the reader gets left out on a lot of the mystery solving parts.  Maybe if we got the POV from the character who was solving all the clues, it would have been more interesting.  Also, for a book that is literally called "The Vatican Secret", there were a lot fewer secrets revealed than I was expecting. The ending and seeing how all these clues came together was moderately satisfying and it left off on a "I don't think that's the last we'll be seeing of them..." type of ending so hopefully more secrets will be revealed in later books in the series.

Overall, I think this was an interesting beginning to a series but there was just too much jammed into this one book.  The action sequences were fantastic but I wish the character reveals were handled much more delicately and left some intrigue to be revealed in later books.  I did really grow to love the group of misfits that we're following and I think their chemistry together was great so I'd look forward to reading more in the series.

Thanks to NetGalley and Avon Books UK for the ARC

Publication date was March 3, 2022
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A secret society steals the Vatican's big book of secrets and prepares to reveal all. By chance, a couple of mercenaries witness the theft and chase down the stolen book. Of course there are clues based on ancient works, a mad dash across the globe and plenty of bad guys trying to stope them.

As a high octane thriller The Vatican Secret works well, and if you like gunfights and mayhem the you'll love this. The pretext is all rather absurd but the action is entertaining,
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I wasn’t to Thank Avon Books and Net Galley for the opportunity to read this latest book by David Leadbeater.

 I’ve got to confess I love reading books about ancient Secret Cabals and treasures that have been hidden for centuries. So, when I was allowed to download this book I was thrilled. That is until I started to read it. 

This is another in a long list of “secret treasures that will save/destroy Life/Religion/Christianity as we know it. If you are going to write the same book that so many others have written in the past, it needs to be the best of the genre. This book wasn’t. 

The characters do not even rise to the cookie cutter level. Meet the hero, Joe Mason. Mason, an ex-MI5 operative or is he an ex-soldier haunted by his past. Pick a past and stick with it. The other character Roxy, an ex-alcoholic tells Joe that she soaked her sheets in Rum because of the smell. The Villains are even worse. 

In summary, if I could give it zero stars, I would
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Joe & Roxy are meant to be guarding a Professor and his grown daughter while they are in Rome. They are visiting the archives in the Vatican when everything falls apart. The professor is killed and Joe, Roxy. & his daughter Sally are on the run. They are hiding from the authorities while they try to work out who killed the Professor. They find themselves embroiled in a war between and ancient society and the Catholic Church. The Amori want to destroy the church and Sally asks Roxy &Joe to help her. Along they way they add a couple more to their numbers and race around the world trying to stop the Amori from revealing ancient secrets. This is an action packed adventure, with lots of action and colorful characters. This series is advertised as the first in the Joe Mason series, but to me this was a team effort and didn’t understand why the Amori leader only seemed to be concerned about stopping Mason.
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I'm a fan of Dan Brown's books and have always been fascinated with the Vatican and Vatican City, so this book looked interesting and it didn't disappoint. The action is fast-paced, with villains and secret history, and travel. I didn't immediately connect with Joe and thought Marduk, the villainous villain, was a bit over the top, but still enjoyed this one and would try another Joe Mason book. Thanks to Avon and Netgalley for this ARC.
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I was very excited to receive an advanced copy of this book for review purposes. The description was promising, an action packed adventure in the vain of DaVinci Code and Jack Reacher, and the The Vatican Secret did not disappoint!
The story is engaging, with characters you quickly care about, I was invested in the story from start to finish. The settings were beautifully described, making it easy to be fully absorbed with story.
My only niggle would be that it was predictably formulaic, but that did not take away from the enjoyment of having found this story and I would love to read the next Joe Mason adventure.
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As I read this I kept thinking what a brilliant movie it would make!   It is written in that sort of style - very fast paced and action packed.  Very enjoyable and gripping right to the end!
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The Vatican Secret is a conspiracy mystery in the vein of Dan Brown where a secret society called the Amori steal a book from the Vatican and threaten to reveal its secrets to the world in order to destroy the Catholic Church.
Mason and Roxy are bodyguards looking after Professor Rusk and his daughter, Sally  who are by chance doing some research studies in the Vatican. Suddenly, whilst they are in one of the library areas,  a robbery occurs and the secret book is stolen. 
In shock about these violent events Sally implores Mason and Roxy to help her recover the book and protect the secrets it contains.
Unfortunately I felt that this was a plot which had been written about many times before in various guises. The characters seemed very two dimensional despite attempts to give them interesting back stories- I really did not care much what happened to them and had to force myself to pick up the book.
The one plus was that I did manage to read it to the end although I did skim some of the action sequences which became very repetitive. However everyone has different tastes and this might appeal to readers who enjoy fast paced action thrillers.
Thanks to NetGalley and the publishers for my arc.
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