A true page-turner which I was lucky enough to find on Amazon's Kindle store for free (at the moment, it is listed at $ 10,80).
Marilyn Brown Oden starts the book with a quotatin from Charles Péguy:
"Everything begins in mysticism and ends in politics."
Since I had never come across his name before, I had a quick look at Wikipedia to find out who he was: a French poet, essayist and editor who lived from 1873 to 1914, socialism and nationalism being his two main philosophies. When he turned Catholic, his new-found faith strongly influenced his works.
Back to the story: The heroine, Bishop Lynn Peterson from New Orleans, witnesses the assasination of a friend, New Orleans Saints kicker Elie Darwish. She is sure that she can link the sniper to the mime who stood on the pavement right up until the shooting, and is equally sure she sees the same man again on a streetcar the next day.
Around the same time, the bishop and her husand, Galen, are invited to a dinner with the Vice President. Galen has to leave early after an emergency phone call, and Lynn is asked to ride to the airport in the Vice President's limousine. There, she learns that the President (in this book, a woman named Helena Benedict) wishes her to hand a confidential letter to a friend in Europe, where Lynn and Galen are scheduled to travel anyway.
Lynn doesn't know why the President needs to make use of her as an unofficial channel of communication but accepts the task, not even telling Galen about it.
And indeed she hands the letter over to the man it is addressed to - only to see him shot dead as soon as he gets off the plane. In the ensuing chaos, she manages to get hold of the President's message again, and this is where the real "fun" begins for Lynn: she is drawn into a whirlwind of political intrigue, not knowing whom she can trust; her and her husband's lives are in danger, a Secret Society's symbol crops up in the most unexpected places, hotel rooms are exchanged for safe houses, more men lose their lives soon after she last spoke to them, and all that is going on while Lynn and Galen are on a frantic itinerary of conferences and meetings throughout the Balkan countries.
The story quickly picks up speed, and while the amount of activities packed into one day of Lynn's tight schedule is amazing, it is not unbelievable. She as a character is likeable, and while the identity of her nemesis is soon revealed to the reader, it remains a mystery for her until almost the very end of the book. Lynn rises to the challenge of finding out what is actually going on and who has been pulling the strings behind the scenes. I was not surprised by the ending, but my attention was really captured right to the last page.
With the main character being a Bishop, religion and faith are of course frequently mentioned, but not to the point of getting in the way of the story. In fact, it takes until chapter 21 for Lynn to be shown praying. Having read on the author's home page that Marilyn Brown Oden has first-hand experience with the places and people described in the story made it all the more interesting.