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Overview: Veteran historical novelist Michael Llewellyn’s first mystery is a long-overdue expose of the historic California Missions. Armed with extensive research, including eyewitness accounts from the past, he explodes the romantic myths surrounding the so-called benevolent Franciscan padres and their Native American converts, lifting the “Adobe Curtain” to reveal a world of slavery, deprivation and cruelty. Once you read Communion of Sinners, you’ll never see the famous missions in the same light again.
The story begins as New Orleans travel writer Sam Crockett flees an ugly divorce by driving across the country to visit friends in Carmel, California. Along the way, he stops at isolated Soledad Mission where he explores the graveyard and stumbles upon what he believes is an ancient skeleton. When the Soledad police determine that the bones are recent, Sam finds himself on the scent of a potentially explosive story and calls his partner Claudia Durand for help. The veteran photojournalism team has barely begun work when another corpse pops up. The journals of a recently deceased and famously reclusive anthropologist provide clues leading the team to the Santa Cruz Mission and three skeletons unearthed by the Loma Prieta quake and hastily reburied when their crushed skulls scream murder. Despite being stonewalled by the local Catholic Church, Sam and Claudia persevere in their search for the truth which, unbelievably, connects murders committed over two centuries ago with the recent new killings. As the idyllic California landscape becomes littered with the corpses of Spanish soldiers, Franciscan padres, Native Americans and modern-day journalists, Sam and Claudia wonder if they’ll be next as they unmask a deadly and unholy Communion of Sinners.
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