Davis Bunn’s The Black Madonna takes readers on a thrilling treasure hunt all over the world, from the war torn alleys of the Middle East to the remote lodges of the Swiss Alps. Antique dealer Storm Syrrell’s business is dangerously close to bankruptcy, when a mysterious, deep-pocketed client propels her and her associate, Homeland Security agent Emma Webb, onto a journey fraught with abductions, political intrigue, and romance. As Storm and Emma seek the answers hidden behind holy Christian relics, they resolve to take chances on the men they love.
The Black Madonna’s back-and-forth style between several storylines makes the plot more intricate. Storm and Emma are two friends going about their jobs in Florida and Washington D.C., respectively, until the CIA’s interest in Storm’s unknown client and his spokesman, the arrogant Raphael Danton, link the two women. Storm and Emma have been through plenty together and rely upon each other for moral support. Treasure hunter Harry Bennett is an old acquaintance of Storm and Emma, whose connections greatly assist the heroines on their quest. Raphael’s relationship with the women gets off to a rocky start, but once his condescending exterior is shattered, his resources prove to be of vital importance.
As Storm overspends on ancient Christian icons for her anonymous client, she is given the task of recovering the Black Madonna, a sacred painting that stands as a symbol of hope to a longsuffering nation. Storm’s life is targeted as she connects the dots between her mysterious client, the Black Madonna, and a premeditated Israeli bombing. Storm and Emma boldly disregard American and British authorities as they search for the painting, knowing a quick recovery could divert widespread conflict in Europe.
Storm and Emma possess similar personalities as strong, determined women operating in male-dominated fields. Storm is trusting and a master planner, whereas Homeland Security agent Emma is cautious and an expert in hand-to-hand combat. Bunn’s decision to emphasize the characters’ personalities, while leaving physical appearances up to the reader’s imagination, is effective It allows their personalities to influence appearances in the reader’s mind. Miracles are a prevalent theme, both in Storm and Emma’s perilous mission and in their love lives. The story’s events transform the women from skeptics to believers. The final chapter says of Storm’s outlook on love, “Before this day, this very hour, she would have called such things impossible. Storm wiped her face and wondered if this was what it was like to come face-to-face with miracles.”
The Black Madonna is a gripping adventure tinged with romance skillfully dispensed by Bunn, who delights in peppering the novel with vivid description and imagery. It is tailored toward young adults, particularly those who would enjoy a modern thriller packed with historical facts. Although the story contains nothing objectionable besides mild violence, Christian material is very subtle. Storm and Emma are too busy saving the world to discuss faith and religion frequently, but follow the biblical principle of helping others according to Philippians 2:4, which says, “Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others.” Although the conclusion feels a bit weak after the intense build up, The Black Madonna is an exciting story. Just don’t expect it dramatically to impact your walk with God. – Nick Van Heest, www.ChristianBookPreviews.com
Following the internationally acclaimed Gold of Kings, Storm Syrrell returns in the compelling story of The Black Madonna.Antiques expert Storm Syrrell heads to Europe to investigate the clandestine trade in religious artifacts. She dismisses superstitious tales of miraculous healings and divine omens. Yet when an obsessive Russian oligarch calls—just as her friend Harry Bennett vanishes—all assumptions must be cast aside. Storm seeks answers in a medieval monastery. There, the scarred visage of an icon provokes ever more startling questions. Is she prepared to confront both earthly and spiritual powers? Storm remains haunted by lessons in love and betrayal that lie just outside her grasp. But hesitation now holds mortal consequences.