Moving at a stately pace, this thriller involves ciphers and codes from the 16th century, an infernal device for contacting God, secret societies, murder, betrayal, blood sacrifice, alchemy, and romance that takes the reader from an upscale prep school across the world to Prague . Even though I was not enamored of of The DaVinci Code I would recommend it as a read alike. There is something in this that speaks to nightmares and fears and perhaps mythology of the subconscious. As a kid, I had a box of my mother's books from the 1940s. There was a book in there, title, author, characters, forgotten but that had a scene featuring robed figures in an underground crypt preparing to take blood from an unwilling victim. This image has always stayed with me and it was echoed in this book.
Nora, who won a scholarship to an exclusive prep school after her older brother died driving drunk, is so proficient in Latin she is hired to help translate some passages for a project her best friend Chris, a college freshman and his roommate Max are working on for a professor. Her other best friend Adriane is Chris's girl friend. While translating letters from a 16th century young woman involved with science, religion, and alchemy who went to Prague, she runs across some coded passages. When the professor is found after apparently suffering a stroke, they discover all the original documents are missing. Then Chris is murdered, Adriane catatonic, and Max goes missing, suspected of the attack. Soon Nora and Adriane (who has recovered) are on their way to Paris for their senior class trip where they take off to search for Max in Prague.