Detective Antoine Marcas is pleased to be serving as the grand expert for the night's Freemason initiation ceremony. But, when he enters to the chamber of reflection where the man is waiting, he finds the initiate dead on the floor in a pool of blood. What's worse, when he confronts the murderer, he discovers it's a Freemason brother.
In 1355, Nicolas Flamel is closing his shop. Riots are a concern when an execution is taking place. In this case a Jew will be burned at the stake at the behest of the King. Nicolas is dragged unwillingly to the scene of the execution. He's sickened by it and by the role played by his new neighbor, the torturer. However, the torturer drags him into the drama, taking down the words of a young woman being tortured.
The authors skillfully weaves these plots together in the hunt for the murder. The underlying theme is alchemy and the ends to which the greed of men will take them in a search for pure gold. Marcas is a troubled character because of the link between his Freemason brothers and the explosion of greed and murder. It goes against the Freemason principles he cherishes.
I found the background on the Freemasons very interesting. I had often wondered about the brotherhood and their rituals. This book gives a good description of the activities and beliefs of the society.
The book is fast paced. It toggles back and forth between the present and 1355, but the plots are easy to follow because the chapters are short and there are hints of the way the pieces will fit together. I highly recommend this book, not only for the mystery, but for the fascinating background on the Freemasons.
I received this book from Le French Book for this review.