In the year 1260, a great cathedral, the most ambitious ecclesiastical building in all of Christendom, is rising high above the bustling city of Cologne under the supervision of the architect Gerhard Morart. Far below the soaring spires and flying buttresses, a bitter war rages between the archbishop and the city's ruling merchant families—a deadly conflict that claims Morart as the first of its many victims. But there is a witness to the murder of the unfortunate architect, pushed to his death from the cathedral's scaffolding. A cunning, street-smart, politically naive petty thief called "Jacob the Fox" has seen it all—and seeing has made him the target of a relentless and ruthlessly efficient assassin who's been stripped of his humanity by dark, hidden secrets. Ensnared in the strangling vines of a terrifying conspiracy, the Fox must now run for his life. But who—and what—is he running from?
German author Schatzing, best-known for his environmental SF thriller The Swarm(2006), uses the death of real-life architect Gerhard Morart, the designer of the cathedral of Cologne, as his starting point for this compelling historical suspense novel. Work on what would become the most famous church in Germany has been underway for a dozen years in 1260 when Morart falls from the unfinished building's roof-murdered, in the author's fictional scenario, as the result of a shadowy conspiracy. Unfortunately for the plotters, Jacob the Fox, a thief known for his fiery red hair, witnesses the act and actually hears the victim's dying words, leading the murderers to target Jacob and anyone he might have spoken to. The main mystery revolves around the motives of the plotters, whose identities aren't kept secret. Strong action sequences and a dramatic look at a time and place unfamiliar to most readers should help solidify Schatzing's reputation as a versatile storyteller. (Sept.)Copyright 2007 Reed Business Information