And now the Sudarium of Oviedo: The Novel

imageFROM THE I CAN HARDLY NOT WAIT DEPARTMENT: Comic books, now this. It is called Immortal Surrender: The Curse of the Templar, Book II by Claire Ashgrove. It should be available on September 25, 2012. This sample is from the author’s website:

Farran de Clare, loyal member of the cursed Knights Templar, wants nothing to do with predestined mates. Even the Almighty won’t turn him into a fool again—he’d rather sacrifice his soul. Yet in the scientist Noelle Keane, a devout atheist, Farran meets the seraph designed for him.

[ . . . ]

“How’s it feel to prove the existence of Christ?”

The wavering masculine voice invaded Noelle Keane’s laboratory as a door clicked shut. She looked over her shoulder to greet aging archaeologist Gabriel San Lucee with a smile. “Morning, Gabriel.” She turned back to the cloth.

Thirty-three inches of fragile cloth swathed the laboratory table. Laid out with less care than anyone had given the delicate weave in centuries, it bore dark stains in the wrinkled center, telltale marks of its original insignificance. But though it had once been little more than a scrap meant for the trash, millions revered it. Now the flimsy piece of material would gain more respect and attract thousands of devotees. All in the name of a mythical being who no one could prove existed.

Noelle ran her gloved hand across the rough surface, smoothing out wrinkles that would never see an iron. In her other hand, she held a typed printout of her carbon-dated findings. The evidence was there, and yet all it proved was that the Sudarium of Oviedo covered a body in the approximate year 33.

Not what body. Not which month. Not even where it had been used. Supposition laid claim to all those things. Scientific fact, however, verified only its age. That and the blood type AB. All the rest of the findings—such as pollen type and traces of myrrh that had been verified in the midnineties—could relate to any number of ancient funerary practices in Palestine.

She folded it into a loose square, small enough to fit into the airtight canister that protected it.

“You didn’t answer my question.” Pulling on gloves, Gabriel joined her at the table and leaned a hip on the edge. He extended a wrinkled hand toward the metal container. “May I hold it?”
She passed him the canister. “I haven’t proved Christ existed. Until they dig up his bones, that won’t happen. And even if they do dig up his bones, barring your God suddenly appearing to tell us otherwise, we can’t prove the bones are Jesus Christ’s.”

[ . . . ]

Truthfully, she already knew what brought him here today. Gabriel had been part of the team of scientists that dated the Shroud of Turin in the eighties. He’d want to see this supposed counterpart.

“Well, yes and no.” He slung a leather satchel that had seen better days over his shoulder and set it on the table.

“Yes, I wanted to see the Sudarium. But I needed to talk to you as well.”

“Make it quick. I’ve got a flight to catch. That little baby has to be back in the Cámara Santa tonight. If it’s not, Father Phanuel will have a coronary.” She shrugged out of her lab coat, hung it on the wall, and went to the mirror to tighten her ponytail. “He’s convinced someone’s going to steal it.”

[ . . . ]

Slowly turning, Noelle dropped her gaze to the gnarled cane resting against Gabriel’s left leg. He’d devoted his life to proving the Shroud of Turin was legitimate. Now he was almost eighty, and all he had to show for his research was a shroud that dated from the thirteenth century and a crippled leg. . . .

One thought on “And now the Sudarium of Oviedo: The Novel”

  1. Back in the 1950s, I vaguely recollect my parents’ generations called this sort of trash, ‘Penny dreadfuls’; I think you could buy them from the pulp bookshops for a penny at one time, but only hack writers ever wrote the stuff. Maybe they only paid the writers a penny a page. Sort of Mills & Boone genre. Will Noelle’s devout atheism be intellectually challenged by her breathtaking scientific breakthroughs? Will the guy get the gal? And Farran de Clare? Will he surrender his Templar celibacy? And she’ll need a villain in the mix as well. You can actually write this stuff with the brain in neutral!

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