Art investigator Madison Dupre knew the offer was too good to be true: $20,000 for a quick trip to Dubai, the fantastic Arabian Nights city on the Persian Gulf. The call came from Sir Henri Lipton, a man who was supposed to be dead—and who she sincerely had hoped was burning in hell because he had ruined her career before his violent "demise." He told her only one tantalizing thing about the piece of art: "Let's just say it's a couple thousand years old and was buried with Christ." The fact the offer came from a man wanted on three continents for art looting was fair warning that there would be a catch.
But with credit collectors and an avaricious landlord pounding at her door, Madison listened when the devil whispered magic words in her ear: $20,000– cash – upfront. There was a catch, of course. A number of them. Sir Henri was up to his neck in conspiracies and needed someone to deflect the danger onto—not to mention frame for the most audacious art theft in history. Dubai, a city that has been called Las Vegas on steroids, would just be the first stop for Madison on a quest that takes her to an ancient Mesopotamian city, the dark streets of exotic Istanbul, Venice at Carnival time, and a cathedral where the most sacred object of Christendom is stored. Along the way, she finds romance in the arms of a Russian agent who she doesn't trust—and can't resist.
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Podrug's workmanlike fifth contribution to the Robbins franchise (after The Looters) ventures into religious thriller territory. Madison Dupre, disgraced antiquities expert, is scratching out a living in New York City when Henri Lipton, the hated associate who she thought had been killed in an earlier adventure, offers her much-needed cash to help him track down a religious artifact a supposed painting of Jesus that was buried in His tomb after the crucifixion. Lipton intends to sell the painting to a Russian holy man, Boris Alexandrovich Nevsky. Maddy survives several attempts on her life and has numerous sexual encounters as she races from city to city in an effort to locate the artifact. Even though Podrug employs the Robbins fundamentals sex, action and exotic locals the result lacks the primal heat of Robbins's best.