For this list, we’re defining a ‘religious thriller’ as a pulse-pounding mystery, conspiracy or quest that uses religious artifacts, secrets or clergy at the core of the story. We chose not to be constrained in our criteria by claims of religious accuracy, Biblical or otherwise. After all, even the most devout authors often take liberties with commonly held beliefs in their storylines.
Here are five great religious thriller books that have stuck with us in recent years. As we encounter more, we’ll expand this into a top 10 list.
By Simon Toyne
In the oldest inhabited place on earth, atop a mountain known as the Citadel, a Vatican-like city-state towers above the city of Ruin in modern-day Turkey.
For the Sancti—the monks living inside the Citadel—this could mean the end of everything they have built and protected for millennia . . . and they will stop at nothing to keep what is theirs.
For American reporter Liv Adamsen, driven by the memory of a tragic loss, an earth-shaking discovery awaits that will change everything . . .
By Raymond Khoury
In 1310, Templar knight Conrad of Tripoli stumbled on a trove of writings documenting the early days and divisions of Christianity.
The Catholic Church has kept this material hidden since the fall of Constantinople in 1453, fearful that its release would undermine the church’s authority and rock the foundations of Christian belief.
In the present, Mansoor Zahed, an Iranian motivated by revenge for the CIA killing of his family in the 1950s, is bent on finding the trove and releasing it to undermine Western religion and stability.
Meanwhile, FBI special agent Sean Reilly visits the Vatican on a quest to find a document that may help in his effort to rescue his love interest, Tess Chaykin, who’s been kidnapped. The constant suspense, ever-mounting body count, and interesting historical lore will keep readers turning the pages.
The Sword of Moses
By Dominic Selwood
When former MI6 agent turned archaeologist Dr Ava Curzon is engaged by American intelligence to track down an African militia claiming to hold the Ark of the Covenant, she is plunged into a world where nothing is what it seems.
Her breakneck descent into the shadowy realm of dark biblical magic hurls her across continents and into the opaque worlds of the Knights Templar, freemasons, occultists, and extremist neo-Nazis, pushing her mentally and physically to the limits.
As the plot twists and turns across the centuries, she requires all her skills to solve a trail of ancient clues leading her inexorably towards a terrifying ritual. Taking centre stage, she faces the ultimate battle against an age-old evil she must stop at all costs.
Bloodline: A Sigma Force Novel
By Steve Berry
Pulitzer Prize–winning investigative journalist Tom Sagan has written hard-hitting articles from hot spots around the world. But when one of his stories from the Middle East is exposed as a fraud, his professional reputation crashes and burns. Now he lives in virtual exile—haunted by bad decisions and a shocking truth he can never prove: that his downfall was a deliberate act of sabotage by an unknown enemy.
But before Sagan can end his torment with the squeeze of a trigger, fate intervenes in the form of an enigmatic stranger. This stranger forces Sagan to act—and his actions attract the attention of the Magellan Billet, a top-secret corps of the United States Justice Department that deals with America’s most sensitive investigations.
Sagan suddenly finds himself caught in an international incident, the repercussions of which will shudder not only Washington, D.C., but also Jerusalem. Coaxed into a deadly cat-and-mouse game, unsure who’s friend and who’s foe, Sagan is forced to Vienna, Prague, then finally into the Blue Mountains of Jamaica—where his survival hinges on his rewriting everything we know about Christopher Columbus.
Honorable Mention: virtually every Dan Brown book ever written!