May, 1555 – Smart, talented, and handsome, young Nicolo Di Cottano is a respected church composer and assistant music director at the humble Saint Matthias Cathedral and Academy in Genoa, Italy. On the other hand, he’s also temperamental, agnostic, half Jewish, and a bit free with his love – traits not normally associated with success in this exalted realm.
Now he has fallen in love with Michela, the beautiful and caring older sister of one of his choirboys. At the same time, he has come to believe that one of the priests is taking unspeakable liberties with an Academy student. Suspects abound. Could it be Father Paulo, the cranky and enigmatic Academy Director who has shown unusual interest in two of the boys, or perhaps Father Pietro, the overbearing senior priest with whom Nicolo has shared years of hostility and distrust? What about Nicolo’s friend, Father Raimondo, an Academy instructor whose behavior has been most peculiar as of late? Nicolo can’t even be sure if his lifelong protector and ally, Bishop Caravaggio, will be friend or foe in the matter. Complicating matters even more, Nicolo has been warned by a thuggish, red-haired stranger to keep to his own affairs, or else!
An unlikely hero, Nicolo’s toughest challenge will be to muster up enough wit and courage to pierce the ongoing conspiracy of secrecy that has haunted Saint Matthias for so long and, if he survives, to fend off inevitable retribution from the vindictive new Pope, persecution from the despicable Bishop sent as Nicolo’s inquisitor, and senseless revenge at the cruel hand of Il Rossone, the new self-appointed Don of Saint Matthias Square. And what of Michela – can a young couple’s love survive such tribulation?