The Avignon Affair

A Vatican Secret Archive Thriller

A corpse cloaked in secrets rests in an ancient tomb deep beneath Notre-Dame Cathedral, but its identity remains elusive. One priest is determined to find out who the dead man is and what he’s hiding . . .

Father Michael Dominic is called to France for an unusual assignment. A fourteenth-century bishop was found in a crypt buried under the burnt remnants of Notre-Dame—but he’s wearing the ring of a cardinal, and two parchment scrolls had been hidden in his garment sleeve. Who was this 700-year-old custodian of carefully guarded secrets?

Once Father Dominic decodes the rolled scrolls, long-hidden confessions are exposed that throw France into political turmoil while creating havoc within Dominic’s own team of friends. Relationships are tested and shocking new revelations emerge in The Avignon Affair.

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Published August 22, 2022

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“If you like your books intelligent, professionally written, staggeringly well researched and curated, and historically informative, whilst combining ancient theological mystery with contemporary action thriller, you will not find a better writer, and this series will be well and truly up your street…

As usual, the real star of the book is McAvoy’s work ethic; I can truly say that I have rarely, if ever, read an author who takes their research so seriously and meticulously—he is a masterclass tutor for history-based fiction authors.” — MATT McAVOY, MJV Literary Reviews UK (no relation to author)

“Seven is a magical number in many spiritual and religious views, and Gary McAvoy’s seventh novel with the fascinating Father Michael Dominic delivers magic.

The Avignon Affair pulls Michael, Hana and friends into a fourteenth-century medieval mystery and, surprisingly, modern political strife that rivals the machinations of papal conclaves of old. The latest in the Vatican Secret Archives Thrillers – sequels to his first collection The Magdalene Chronicles – Avignon brings a crisp, taut aspect to a story fans have come to love.

As with his previous novel The Petrus Prophecy, McAvoy partners here with author Ronald L. Moore; the collaboration began with ideas for The Opus Dictum and will continue for several books going forward. Their copious research shines in the details of each gripping scene. From restoring ancient papyrus scrolls in the Secret Archives to discovering sarcophagi in the catacombs along France’s Rhône River, McAvoy and Moore captivate and educate us in turn.

Seamlessly weaving current events into the mystery, such as the devastating 2019 fire at Notre-Dame Cathedral, McAvoy further pulls us into Michael’s world, imparting a realism that leaves us hard-pressed to see where the storyline crosses into the imaginary. As in previous books, there is a welcome bonus at the end, listing “Fiction, Fact or Fusion?” in a breakdown of the story elements. Chapter by chapter, the authors lay out the facts gleaned from research and experience, freely confessing literary license and specifying fictional ideas. The ratio of true historical facts to inventive creations woven throughout the story is as appealing as it is remarkable.

The Avignon Affair delivers as much mystery and intrigue as McAvoy’s previous novels in the two series. Delving into present-day politics as well gives us readers a slight change of pace from their medieval-intensive plots. It’s like a palate refresher between courses, but don’t carry that simile too far. The Avignon Affair is a well-rounded, compelling book on its own that equals its companions.

Enjoy this latest quest for answers in the Vatican Secret Archives Thrillers. If you are just discovering this gem of a series, start with The Magdalene Chronicles, where Father Dominic’s journey at the Vatican begins.”  — LISA KNAPP TREON

Loved it! 😍

A mysterious crypt in Notre Dame Cathedral could lead to political and religious chaos across France and to the heart of the Vatican!

Gary McAvoy is back with more stellar writing, the primary reason I rushed to read the latest novel in the Vatican Secret Archive series. McAvoy again collaborates with Ronald L. Moore and they examine a new mystery that forces Father Michael Dominic to pull out all the stops, while evil forcers seek to take full advantage. McAvoy and Moore guide readers through a historical event shrouded in secrecy and show how a modern happening could be directly tied to its interpretation. With politics, action, and a little romantic triangulation, McAvoy and Moore offer up a cryptic story that is sure entertain a great cross-section of readers.

While in Paris for a funeral, Father Michael Dominic is called to Notre Dame Cathedral for a mysterious reason. A crypt said to hold the body of a fourteenth-century bishop has been recovered during restoration processes. What’s odd is that the skeleton has a cardinal’s ring on one finger and has two parchments hidden within the vestments. Baffled as to who it might have been and what secrets the parchments might hold, Father Dominic is asked to take them back to the Vatican to investigate.

All the while, major acts of terror rock the streets of Paris and its outskirts, proving that there is instability within the government. A high-ranking aristocrat calls for the French president to step down and allow the democratic process to choose his successor, while the country stands in awe. In a political vacuum, anything goes and this could be the perfect time for anarchy to reign supreme.

While Father Dominic seeks to better understand their mystery before him, a new King of France emerges and tries to wrest control of the country away from the political leaders, who have themselves sought to impose martial law; leaving little space for anything democratic to flourish. It’s only when Father Dominic uncovers some of the key mysteries about the body and parchments that France’s political turmoil becomes a little clearer and the play for power is central to the story. 

As Father Dominic deciphers what is before him and France is torn, glimpses of what might be come to the surface, both for the country and with some of those with ties to the Vatican. Will something that took place during a temporary seat of the Pope prove to be the end to the Vatican as we know it, taking a country down with it? McAvoy and Moore weave a scintillating story that adds to the greatness this series has produced to date.

My relationship with Gary McAvoy’s writing began when he asked me to read his debut piece of fiction, which gripped me from the outset. The numerous themes develop a Vatican that proves complex and multi-layered, even when events take place well outside of Rome. McAvoy brings Ronald L. Moore back to collaborate, which proves a great choice, as the story finds new depth and complexity without getting overly heavy. Great character development, especially with the key people series fans know well, adds another aspect as to why the book should be read in short order.

There’s long been a spark surrounding this series, which exposes so many truths, fallacies, and ways to blend them together. The collaborative addition of Ronald L. Moore keeps the reader exploring new avenues of mystery while keeping themselves highly entertained. Laying the groundwork from the opening chapter, the narrative develops with each page, balancing historical happenings with modern goings-on, all of which culminates in a strong story that pulls the reader in. Explosive revelations, both political and religious, add depth to a series that has never lacked for adventure. Strong characters, particularly those who are back yet again and build on their past, help create an emotional connection for the reader. While there were some tense moments in the last novel about whether things might be coming to a close, the authors have spun new themes to keep the series going without any sign of letting up.

Kudos, Messrs. McAvoy and Moore, for another great piece in the series. I await your next adventure! — MATT PECHEY, Reedsy Discovery

“I came across Gary McAvoy’s Vatican Secret Archives series one year ago when I purchased The Magdalene Deception, and I enjoyed that book so much that I promptly read through every other book in the series. I’ve just finished the 7th book in the series and continue to thoroughly enjoy McAvoy’s fast-paced and well-researched story telling.

The Avignon Affair, like the previous books in the series, stars Father Michael Dominic, a Vatican priest who specializes in ancient documents and artifacts. During repair work at the damaged Notre-Dame in Paris, an excavation leads to the discovery of someone who appears to be a bishop buried in the foundations of the cathedral, with documents sewn into his sleeves. Dominic is summoned by the French Minister of Culture to help decipher these documents, and before you know it, Dominic and his friends are finding clues to a long lost treasure and breaking into the tomb of an infamous pope. Even more consequential than the treasure, however, are long hidden documents that purportedly reveal the bloodline that rightfully possesses the throne of France.

The Avignon Affair departs a bit from the previous books in that it is more of a political thriller, with multiple characters attempting to seize power in France during a period of social unrest. We have a villain staging terrorist attacks to destabilize the current administration, a government official imposing martial law for his own political purposes, and a Duke attempting to crown himself King based on a long lost papal document. The book definitely illustrates how far some people are willing to go to achieve and keep power, and one definitely might wonder whether McAvoy was inspired by events that occurred here in the US in the last few years.

As usual, McAvoy’s writing is very thoroughly researched and, together with co-author Ron Moore, reveals an extensive knowledge of architecture, weaponry, and cutting edge technology. All of the details in this book make it hard to discern what’s real and what’s made up, but McAvoy helpfully tells us in an appendix at the end.

I strongly recommend readers to pick up The Avignon Affair, as well as the other books in the Vatican Secret Archives series.” — BEN CHENG

“In The Avignon Affair, Michael, Hana, and Marco find themselves embroiled in yet another Vatican mystery when an unidentified corpse bearing the ring of a cardinal is found in a 700-year-old tomb beneath Notre-Dame Cathedral. Time is of the essence as they navigate a near revolution that is taking France by storm, jeopardizing not only their futures but the future of the entire republic. If you’ve been following The Vatican Secret Archives thrillers—and even if you haven’t—you’re sure to love this page-turner of a tale. Yes, I admit it: I’m a fan, and I already can’t wait for the next book!” – DONNA MARIE WEST, author of Next In Line and The Mud Man

“Gary McAvoy’s seventh book is the best so far, and I’ve read them all. This thriller has everything you could ask for: action, drama, mystery, betrayal, loyalty and power struggles, topped with high emotional drama. The fast flowing plots and twists, very well-paced story with the bloody action right from the beginning will keep you reading into the wee hours. I definitely lost sleep to finish this amazing book. Gary’s new deeply developed characters are so real and exciting, you will hate them, you will love them. You definitely won’t forget them. And our group of old friends is back! You will meet a few new era kings and wonder what will happen with Michael and Hana. I always appreciate the author’s research and use of real facts in his stories. Thanks to him and co-author Ron Moore, you can see vividly the life in the old Avignon and Paris. It was a very satisfying read for me and I cannot wait for the next adventure from these very talented authors. Bravo! Don’t miss this book. You can read it as standalone, but I recommend read the entire series. You will not regret it.” — LIDA HUSEK, ARC Reviewer

“The Magdalene Chronicles and Vatican Archive Thrillers are closely related, fast paced action adventures that number seven thus far. The latest entry, The Avignon Affair, is the most ambitious and broadest in scope to date. Fr. Michael Dominic and his stalwart supporting cast are back at it again, this time in a real barn burner. And unlike past entries, this time the villain is not revealed until the end, which only adds to the tension and speculation. The story begins in Avignon, France in the early 1300s when Philip IV was king and the Pope was French and sat in France. We are then brought forward to the present where a mysterious 14th Century corpse complete with hidden scrolls and a challenging code is discovered buried deep in the bowels of the Notre Dame Cathedral during the restoration process following the tragic fire of 2019. Fr. Michael is called from his post in the Vatican Archives to investigate.

As with all other entries in the series, the author’s meticulous research lends authenticity to the story. He also possesses a vast knowledge of the geography, history and varied locations and venues depicted in the book, as well as a firm grip on the Bible, Catholic Church and the Vatican and its innermost workings. Nearly all historic and present day references to events and locations are factual and cleverly woven into the plot. And as a bonus, saving the reader from frequent trips to the internet to check dates, events and locations, the author has conveniently included Chapter Notes at the end of the book detailing fact from fiction.

The author writes beautifully, avoiding the grammatical and syntax issues found in many thriller novels today. And he cleverly paints a vivid picture of the various locations without interrupting the story or slowing the pace of the adventure. Similarly, the characters are richly drawn and well developed without the usual boring repetition. They are also very real, interesting and likable. In fact, this reader came to regard them as “members of the family.”

For maximum enjoyment the books in the series are best read in order, but each is a standalone story, and the reader can start anywhere. If the first book chosen is the current entry, The Avignon Affair, odds are the reader will be back shortly to read the rest of the series.

Reviewers of prior books in the series have suggested they may be anti-Catholic. Respecting all opinions, this reader found the treatment of the religion reverent and respectful. One reviewer suggested that if you like Dan Brown’s books, you will like these. Maybe so, but these books are wholly original and extremely imaginative.

Is The Avignon Affair the best in the series? A good argument can be made for that, but this reader finds it hard to pick a favorite. If you should choose to start with The Avignon Affair, no one could fault your decision. Just be prepared to lose some sleep when you stay up later than usual to read just one more chapter.” — ROBERT BENNETT, JR.