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By M. J. Rose

Mira, 2007 ($24.95)
ISBN-10: 0778324206
ISBN-13: 978-0778324201

Reviewed by Shirley Wetzel

Joshua Ryder, a photojournalist sent to Rome to cover a delegation of high-level peace keepers on their wait to a meeting with the pope, idly watches an argument between a guard and a woman with a baby carriage when his world explodes. He finds himself in a nightmarish vision of an event that took place centuries ago, not knowing how or why he got there. Two pagan priests, Julius and his brother Drago, are trying to defend their temple from a Christian mob bent on its destruction. When Drago is mortally wounded, Julius tries to find the woman he loves.

Joshua snaps out of the vision and wakes up in the hospital. When he is well enough, he goes back to the states, but the visions keep on coming, stronger and more disturbing every time. Doctors find no medical reason for these "flashbacks," so he looks for answers at the Phoenix Foundation, which is dedicated to scientifically documenting past life experiences. Months later, he returns to Rome to visit the archaeological excavation of a tomb dating to 391 AD, the end of the Vestal Virgin cult. He hopes that he will find something to help him understand whatís going on with his visions. He has no trouble finding the excavation -- although heís never been there, his feet take him unerringly along streets that are somehow familiar. Professor Rudolfo and Professor Gabriella Chase are working on the excavation of this tomb, and what they find is of incalculable value.

Joshua is not the only one who has returned from that violent ancient lifetime, and it is soon apparent that others are on the trail of the treasure, people who will stop at nothing to get it. There are many twists and turns to the plot, a bit of DaVinci Code-type action, kidnapping, and a trail of murders. Rose has created a fascinating work in this, her ninth novel. To me it is her best so far. She admits to having a long-time interest in reincarnation, and she skillfully uses that concept in the book. She has done extensive research, and includes more information in her Authorís Notes and Suggested Reading list.

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