“Although the book you are about to read is a work of fiction, many of the mysteries discussed are real. The Voynich manuscript exists, and all references to its contents and history are accurate. In addition, all references to the Bible and the biblical mystery of the Nephilim are true.”
This “Note to Readers” was almost enough to make me put this book down and never pick it up again. This is the kind of introduction that usually precedes a book that enjoys trying to “debunk” religion in general and Christianity in particular. It’s actually not all that different from Dan Brown’s opening note to readers in The DaVinci Code. In short, it’s the mark of a book that will only succeed in irritating me.
Fortunately, I read on. In Tongues of the Dead, while following Brown’s penchant for trying to discredit the Catholic church, falls short of attacking Christianity in general.
Father Ronald McCallum has been assigned by the Vatican to guard an ancient book, the original copy of the Voynich manuscript. He is to report if anyone actually seems able to read it, which he doesn’t expect. Until one day, an autistic boy actually does it.
This triggers a panic at a secret office in the Vatican (sound familiar, DaVinci fans?). The secrets of the book must be kept secret, at all costs.
I agree with other reviewers who found that the book ended almost anti-climatically. Too many coincidental meetings. Of course, in a spiritual thriller like this, the author can always plead Divine Providence, a true Deus ex machina plot device, and go on. The plot moved well for most of the book, and my curiosity was piqued by the mysteries surrounding the Voynich manuscript. Most readers will be doing some research after reading this book to find out (as another reviewer put it) where the fiction ends and the reality begins.
I think this would be a good, light beach book this summer, or something to read while snowed in (as I did). There’s nothing really deep in the book, though I think that the author wanted there to be. The book would have made a great Alternate Reality Game, with the conspiracy to unravel and various codes to solve, and I agree that it would be a great movie. But it was only a fair book.