The Vatican Cameos: A Sherlock Holmes Adventure

The Vatican Cameos: A Sherlock Holmes Adventure

by Richard T. Ryan
November 7, 2016
GenreAction/Adventure, Crime, Mystery, Thriller
Audience Adult
Format Book Length Manuscript
Type Historic Fiction
Word Count 60-80k (average/short)

Editing, Production, Marketing & Sales

Edited by Steve Emecz
Cover design by Brian Belanger
Published Through MX Publishing

Reviewed on November 5, 2018

Review by Amy R. Biddle

The Rundown

It’s 1901 and Sherlock Holmes has been commissioned by the Vatican to chase down a thief. But soon after arriving in Rome it becomes clear that the true mystery lies not in the theft, but the items that were stolen. The items in question are a series of intricate cameos, carved by Michelangelo himself, which put the darkest secrets of the papacy in full view.

The storyline skips seamlessly between Sherlock and Michelangelo, slowly unraveling the mystery as the truth is revealed. While Sherlock and Watson tirelessly try to decipher who is to be trusted, Michelangelo wrestles with a different kind of challenge: should he accept the most exciting and rewarding commission of his life, even if he is appalled by the subject matter?

The story gets graphic as the truth unravels, and Richard T. Ryan pulls no punches as he weaves a hedonistic tale into the history of an organization that is already rife with mystery. Readers with any attachment to the church, and those who prefer their fictional popes to remain clothed, should look elsewhere for literary entertainment.

The Vatican Cameos was wholly original in style and plot, and reminiscent of the DaVinci Code (although the characters drank far more tea). While I am neither a historian nor a reader of Sherlock Holmes novels, it seems as though Richard has researched both the historical and fictional aspects of his book to excruciating detail. For readers seeking tales of religious scantdal, the slow start is well worth the final reveal and the ultimate surprise ending.

The Recommendation

If you like the sound of Sherlock Holmes fan fiction with a dose of religious sex scandals set in the 1500’s, this is the book for you. Not for the faint of heart, The Vatican Cameos is a new take on an old trope. One part historic fiction, two parts mystery, pack this book for your trip to Italy, or perhaps for a lazy weekend at the beach.

The Rating Reviewer Rating: 4.5 Stars

4.5 Stars (out of 5): Highly recommended. This book is a great read. It can hold its own against any traditionally published novel in its genre, and surpasses many.

The Pros & Cons

Pros: Page Turner, Plot, Surprise Ending
Cons: Graphic Sex Scenes, Slow in Places

The Comparisons

For readers who liked these books and authors: Sherlock Holmes, The DaVinci Code

Author’s Summary

Long one of the Vatican’s most closely guarded secrets, it has recently come to light that in the fall of 1901, the papal apartments were burglarized and several valuable cameos stolen. Summoned to Rome by Pope Leo XIII, Sherlock Holmes is tasked by the pontiff with recovering the missing artifacts. As they track their quarry, Holmes and Watson find themselves thrust into the maelstrom of Italian politics of the late 19th and early 20th centuries.

Eventually, Holmes learns from a rather reticent pope that the stolen cameos could prove extremely embarrassing to the Catholic Church, as they vividly depict an event in church history the Vatican has long tried to conceal. When the pontiff receives a letter suggesting that the cameos will be returned if the pope agrees to subjugate the papacy to the temporal rule of the newly unified Italian government, Sherlock Holmes appears to be his only chance at salvation.

Holmes must match wits with a master of realpolitik who is determined to make the Vatican renounce its independence. Racing across Rome from St. Peter’s Basilica to the Trevi Fountain to the Capuchin Crypt, Holmes and Watson must circumvent the blackmailer, whom the detective describes as a “worthy acolyte of the late, unlamented Prof. Moriarty.”

In a parallel plot set in Renaissance Italy and told in alternating chapters, a young Michelangelo, who is the current toast of Rome because of his Pieta, is commissioned by Pope Alexander VI, the last of the pontiffs to bear the Borgia name, to create the cameos that will come to bedevil the papacy 400 years later.

Pulled in different directions by rival members of the Curia, each of whom is pursuing his own agenda, Michelangelo is forced to fashion the cameos in secret while attempting to secure his own safety against a group of vindictive cardinals for many of whom, mercy is a weakness rather than a virtue.

For help in fashioning the cameos, Michelangelo secure the aid of an old adversary, all the while trying to avoid the romantic entrapments of Lucrezia Borgia and the murderous intents of her overly protective brother, Cesare.

Short Description

A Sherlock Holmes adventure that finds the great detective trying to solve a mystery created by Michelangelo, 400 years earlier.


Sherlock Holmes tries to solve a centuries-old mystery.

Additional Links

Find it on Goodreads
Like it on Facebook

You might also like...