As FBI agent Mark Dylan investigates a gruesome double homicide, he is drawn into the mysterious world of the Kingdom Seven Family Temple. Led by the charismatic Minister Lucas Manson, the temple presents a public image that is wholesome and empowering. But under the surface lie dark secrets. As Dylan and his partner Jill Kelly probe deeper into the hidden world of the temple and its sinister practices, they are forced to question their own identities, and soon they learn that friends cannot be distinguished from enemies – and that their lives will change forever.
This rip-roaring thriller will keep you turning the pages as you discover one outrageous secret after another. Minister Lucas Manson is many things: a con man, millionaire evangelist, leader of a sinister cult, doting father, recipient of the Presidential Medal of Freedom, serial killer, blood addict, shrewd businessman, media mogul, and a prophet to his people.
But don't call Minister Lucas Manson a vampire.
LUCAS MANSON: Read it if you dare.
At that moment from the shadowy depths of the corridor came a sound, a faint tap, the sort of tiny percussive disturbance made by a pebble falling on a stone floor, a piece of ancient rotting wood shifting in place, or a lost sparrow striking a wall in the dark. The sound echoed through the narrow stone corridors. In a moment all was silent and dark again.
Dylan and Abouji turned and shone their flashlights down the passageway. They saw nothing but the whitewashed limestone walls and the roughly hewn floor and darkness beyond.
"It is easy to get spooked in these old tombs," said Abouji with a wry smile. "I'm sure it was a rat or some other little inhabitant of these chambers. Come, let's go back and get something cool to drink."
Dylan felt as if he had learned something very interesting and had had a novel experience - he had never before visited Egypt, much less been inside an ancient tomb - but that all of this had nothing to do with the murder of Carl Daigle and Julie Newman. He was searching for a living, breathing murderer, not the image of someone painted fifteen hundred years before Christ was born. Oh well, he would just have to suck it up and go back to Boston and patiently endure Director Guardino's withering cross-examination. What a fool! To fly off half-cocked to meet with an old bookseller and listen to wild stories about non-humans who drank blood. With a feeling of grim resignation Dylan took once last look at the lurid painting, shrugged, and turned away.
The two men retraced their steps out of the burial chamber and up the gentle incline to the set of twenty steps. They saw nothing but the cold stone corridor and they heard nothing but the echoes of their footsteps. They ascended the stairs and made their way up the corridor to the next set of stairs.
As they walked Dylan thought about what he could possibly say to Larry Guardino. Creepy stories were one thing. Evidence was another. So far, Dylan had zero evidence. He hoped that his boss would chalk up Dylan's escapade as the impetuous impulse of a young agent who was perhaps slightly bored with the daily routine of the office. Hopefully Guardino would give him a lecture about wasting time and money, and not bother sending a detailed report to the regional headquarters. Dylan knew that if he aspired to make a career as a special agent and rise through the ranks of the FBI he could not afford to make any more foolish mistakes in the course of a criminal investigation.
"I'm getting too old for all of this climbing!" joked Abouji. At the base of the next set of steps, the ones leading up to the antechamber, he paused to catch his breath. Dylan stopped behind him. Together they stood in quiet contemplation of the living men who thousands of years ago in a stubborn act of faith had hewn these rooms and passages out of solid rock. Their bones and the bones of their children and grandchildren had long since crumbled to dust, but who was to say that they were misguided and that their labor was in vain?
A shadow crossed the door at the top of the stairs. The silence of the tomb was shattered by three booming gunshots. In quick succession they reverberated through the stone passage like thunder rolling through a canyon. Dylan heard a sharp "ping" on the limestone wall a foot from his head. Fragments of stone showered the narrow space and Dylan instinctively flinched. The agent squinted up the stairs but from his position behind Abouji he saw only a pair of legs and a hand holding a pistol.
Abouji reeled backwards and clutched his chest and fell heavily against Dylan. The agent grasped the book dealer by the shoulders and quickly but gently placed him on his back on the corridor floor. Two more shots rang out and the bullets ricocheted off the brittle walls, sending stone shards down on the two men. Dylan dropped to his knees and plunged his hand into Abouji's knapsack. He felt for Abouji's pistol, grasped the rectangular metal grip, and pulled it out. With his thumb he flicked off the safety. He pointed the weapon at the stairs and fired.
Amplified by the narrow passageway, the blast rang deafeningly in Dylan's ears. His shot ricocheted off one of the steps and he saw the shadow flash across the top of the stairs toward the antechamber. Footsteps echoed above and then there was silence.
The book dealer was dead. There was only a spreading river of blood flowing from his chest, over his shirt, onto the stone floor, and down the sloping corridor toward the burial chamber.
Dylan crouched and peered up the stairs. Nothing. He could hear only his own labored breathing. With the pistol in his right hand he took one step towards the dim light at the top of the stairs. In his left hand he held his flashlight that he had extinguished. Darkness was now his ally, and he needed to become the hunter instead of the hunted.
He was to be the hunter for only a brief moment. From far above he heard a metallic clattering sound - the sound made by a grenade tossed on a stone floor. Dylan ducked and covered his head with his hands just as a powerful explosion ripped through the tomb.