Let These Bones Live Again, by David Carlson: Investigating Murder and Theft in Venice

Let These Bones Live Again ($14.95, 190 pages, 6×9 Trade Paperback, ISBN: 978-1-60381-393-8) by David Carlson is a mystery / thriller, and the third book in the Christopher Worthy / Father Fortis Mystery Series. Allyson Worthy and her renowned detective father, Christopher Worthy, investigate the apparent suicides of two wealthy Americans in Venice. Meanwhile, Father Nicholas Fortis looks into the recent theft of relics from Venetian churches. An unexpected breakthrough reveals a dark undercurrent in the city just as Allyson is unexpectedly put in danger.

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“As with the other two entries in this series, the homicide detective and the Orthodox priest form an unusual investigative team that, combined with the setting, make Let These Bones Live Again an intriguing mystery and an entertaining thriller.”—NY Journal of Books

“Fans of Donna Leon will find a good reason to visit Venice again, this time with David Carlson as a guide. Let These Bones Live Again brings together ancient religious rites, dying patients and a youthful protagonist in a compelling, dark mystery.” –Michael Niemann, author of the Valentin Vermeulen series

“David Carlson puts a novel twist on the challenges of ‘East meeting West,’ placing Let These Bones Live Again in a contemporary setting that will appeal to American readers. His blend of police procedure, modern religious differences and medieval practice, cyber crime, deft prose, and the thorough knowledge and skillful use of Venice as the setting and backdrop makes for a winning combination and enjoyable read.” —Bill Rapp, author of the Cold War Thriller series

“Powerful portraits of strong characters finding love through trust and forgiveness, amid all the sights and scents of modern day Venice–a masked lady who gives up her secrets begrudgingly. All this and a crackling plot with many an unexpected twist. Though this is the first Worthy/Fortis mystery I have read, it will not be the last.” —Michael Sears, author of Saving Jason

“David Carlson weaves a masterful story within an Italian setting. A detective father from Detroit and his daughter are thrown together in the most unorthodox fashion to solve a homicide along the canals and architecture of Venice, which he describes beautifully. The reader will bite their nails as unexpected twists and turns escalate the plot into high gear, leading to an unexpected ending.”  —Marie Romero Cash, author of the Jemimah Hodge mystery series

Allyson Worthy, daughter of the renowned homicide detective Christopher Worthy always dreamt of living in Venice. Now, as a college student, she’s landed a dream internship with the Venice police. She assumes she will be investigating minor crimes perpetrated on gullible American and English tourists. On the first day of her internship, however, Allyson is assigned to assist with a more bizarre case—the apparent suicides of two wealthy Americans in the city. Linking the two persons are their similar cancer diagnoses and strange incisions on their bodies.

The family of the second victim, a Detroit automaker, doubts the suicide verdict and hire Christopher Worthy to look into the death. Allyson’s relationship with her father is tenuous, and she resents his intrusion into her dream summer.

After speaking at a conference in Rome, Father Nicholas Fortis is asked by the Vatican to look into the recent theft of relics, bones of saints, from Venetian churches. Father Fortis is happy to offer whatever advice he can to the case Christopher and Allyson Worthy are working on, even as the two Worthys are happy to advise Father Fortis on the stolen relics case.

An unexpected breakthrough reveals a dark undercurrent in the city of canals that changes approaches to both cases. As clues fall into place, Allyson is unexpectedly put in danger as she unknowingly agrees to rendezvous with the killer.

Book 3 in the Christopher Worthy / Father Fortis Mystery Series.

David Carlson has a BA in political science from Wheaton College (Illinois), an M.A. from the American Baptist Seminary of the West (Biblical Theology) and a doctorate from the University of Aberdeen, Scotland (New Testament Studies). Franklin College, a traditional liberal arts college in central Indiana, has been his home for the past thirty-eight years. For more information, click here.

Keep reading for an excerpt:

Dom Philip looked down at this plate. With his fork, he dragged the few remaining pieces of linguini together, but then seemed to lose interest.

“I have a confession to make, Father Fortis,” he said, pausing for a moment before adding, “Maybe the best way of explaining what I mean is to say that the Vatican is picking up the check for our meal.”

“Then by all means, let’s order another bottle of this Frascati,” Father Fortis said. “From what I hear, we won’t come close to breaking the bank. The Vatican bank, that is.”

The smile left Dom Philip’s well-worn face as he wiped his mouth with some finality and folded the napkin before him. “Father Fortis, the Vatican would very much appreciate your looking into some nasty business in Venice.”

Father Fortis laid the piece of bread down. “You will have to explain, my friend.”

“There have been at least three break-ins at Venetian churches in the last five weeks. By itself, that isn’t unusual. Venice is peppered with smaller churches, and the security at them as elsewhere in Italy is quite inadequate. But there are two features of these burglaries that are very troubling. And I must warn you. Some of what I am going to tell you is already common knowledge, while some is strictly confidential. Do you understand?”

Father Fortis’ thoughts were spinning. To visit Venice before returning to his Ohio monastery was always part of his plans. He promised his close friend Lt. Christopher Worthy that he would visit his daughter Allyson, who was beginning an internship in that city. In addition, he knew Venice to be the most Byzantine of the Italian cities and suspected that he would never again have such a chance to see the treasures of the famous city.

“I have no problem keeping confidences,” Father Fortis replied. “But I still don’t see how I can be of help.”

“What is very soon to be common knowledge, if it isn’t already, is that the objects targeted by the thief or thieves are not works of art or even altar pieces, even though some are gold, silver, or encrusted with precious jewels. No, what was taken in each case is hard to understand. I am talking about relics, Father.”

“Relics? But why?” Father Fortis asked.

“That’s exactly what the police are wondering. The reliquaries that hold the relics—many of the reliquaries are gold or silver, some encrusted with precious stones of some considerable value—have been left open. Missing are pieces of bones.”

“Important relics?”

Dom Philip shook his head. “Certainly not the relics of St. Mark from San Marco. But relics of early Christian saints, all, and perhaps this is important, from the Christian East. A foot bone of St. Lucia would be the most prized.”

Father Fortis took more than a sip of the wine and considered what Dom Philip was saying. The stealing of relics was a major activity in the Middle Ages, as was the false “finding” and selling of relics associated with famous saints. But in a secular age that found holiness to be far less important than success, relics became, at best, curiosities for tourists.

Dom Philips leaned forward and lowered his voice. “So now I will share the confidential part. This comes from what I shall call a friend in the Venice police.”

“A friend of the Vatican, you mean.”

Dom Philip nodded. “Scandals of late have certainly hurt the Holy See, but we still know how to gather information.”

Father Fortis imagined that the Vatican has about as many “friends” around the world as the CIA.

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