After narrowly surviving his last operation, Gabriel Allon, the wayward son of Israeli intelligence, has taken refuge behind the walls of the Vatican, where he is restoring one of Caravaggio’s greatest masterpieces. But while working early one morning in the conservation lab, he is summoned to St. Peter’s Basilica by his friend and occasional ally Monsignor Luigi Donati, the all-powerful private secretary to his Holiness Pope Paul VII. The body of a beautiful woman, a curator from the antiquities department, lies smashed and broken beneath Michelangelo’s magnificent dome. The Vatican police suspect suicide, though Gabriel, with his restorer’s eye and flawless memory, believes otherwise. So, it seems, does Donati. But the monsignor is fearful that a public inquiry might inflict another scandal on the Church, and so he calls upon Gabriel to use his matchless talents and experience to quietly pursue the truth—with one important caveat.
“Rule number one at the Vatican,” Donati said. “Don’t ask too many questions.”
Gabriel soon learns that the dead woman had uncovered a dangerous secret—a secret that threatens a global criminal enterprise that is looting timeless treasures of antiquity and selling them to the highest bidder. But there is more to this network than just greed. A mysterious operative, an old enemy out for vengeance, is plotting an unthinkable act of sabotage that will plunge the world into a conflict of apocalyptic proportions. Once again, Gabriel must return to the ranks of his old intelligence service—and place himself, and those he holds dear, on the razor’s edge of danger.