Looking for adventure, mystery, romance and loads of fun in your next summer read? Trek across Europe, search for lost treasure, defeat the bad guys, and much more as you enjoy author John C. Stipa’s entertaining debut novel, No Greater Sacrifice.
The author captured my interest from the prologue. A parish priest is murdered in a church at Rennes-le-Château in the South of France in 1917. Three men are framed for the murder and the seeds of a 100-year-old mystery are planted.
We meet our heroine, archaeologist Renée d’Arcadia, in present day Greece. It is a short time after she has learned she is terminally ill with leukemia. Her plan is to look around the well known sites in Greece such as the Acropolis. Instead, she explores the Temple of Eleusis. There she finds a small bronze piece with strange symbols and markings.
Renée is summoned to a church in France for the reading of a will. While en route, she meets David Arturo, who has been named in the will as well and the pair travel to Rennes-le-Château for the reading. Instead of wealth or property, the two are left more puzzle pieces like the one Renée found in Greece.
This touches off a whirlwind journey across Europe from Stonehenge to Frombork Poland to find the remaining puzzle pieces. At the end, unknown riches await that could be the Ark of the Covenant, the Holy Grail or even King Solomon’s gold. However, sinister forces are never far away. A murderous group of criminals are willing do whatever it takes to attain the bronze pieces and the treasure.
John C. Stipa has included all the aspects of great contemporary fiction: a captivating opening, wonderful characters, and a tight plot with plenty of twists and turns. He builds the tension, increasing the pace, keeping the reader glued until the climactic ending. Renée and David begin a classic, budding romance charged with sexual tension. David, the college professor, former military, calm and organized, is the perfect companion to the wild, spontaneous, act-first-deal-with-consequences-later Renée. The secondary cast is first rate with Renée’s best friend, the eccentric “Trout,” and the pompous Paul Meehutch adding enough contrast and support without overshadowing the heroes.
Any author writing in this genre risks comparison to the literary work of Dan Brown. I believe Stipa has done enough to distance himself from Brown’s well known books and movies. The dialogue is realistic and the narrative so descriptive that you begin to fear you and your couch will collapse into the next secret chamber along with the characters. The beautiful but tough, crossbow toting, take no bull, Renée d’Arcadia is the new Indiana Jones. Don’t miss this thrill-a-minute adventure! Highly Recommended.
Reviewed by William R. Potter for Reader’s Choice.
JOHN C. STIPA was born on January 29, 1961, in Abington, Pennsylvania. The son of a stone mason, his early years were the life of Indiana Jones. Whether it was exploring creeks, climbing trees, playing flashlight tag or infiltrating places with No Trespassing signs, the adventurous life called to him.