The Painted Cross
Hunter Dennis, author
France, 1788. The winds of change are blowing, and all can feel the air upon their skin. This is the time of the Heirlooms, the age where the two mysteries, the Cross and the Song, are created. The priceless necklace, the Cross of Nantes, lost to the Traversier family in 1759, has reappeared in their ancestral home - on the neck of the girl hit by Xavier’s carriage. Her name is Estelle Guerrier. Legally white, from Saint-Domingue, she will affect all those in her wake, awakening passion, envy, and violence. Her brother Guillaume - a handsome, profligate rake - having lit Grenoble on fire, walks to Paris and enters the world of Boulevard theater… and Sans-Culotte revolution, a man seemingly doomed to stand in the fire of chaos. 1832 – Haiti, a tension-filled stew of French and African culture, voodoo, Creole, disease, poverty, beauty and tyranny. Decades later, the time of the detectives searching for the two mysterious Crimson Heirlooms. Jake Loring, legally blackmailed to search for the Heirlooms by the mysterious Monsieur Tyran, finds himself in a nation recovering from war and genocide, tasked with finding clues regarding the priceless artifact named The Cross of Nantes. As Jake plots to fake his death and return home to Boston, he discovers the nature of the forces arrayed against him… and new clues of the Cross, which strike too close to home. As Jake searches for meaning decades past the events of the Heirlooms, and the characters he pursues move through their lives, the two timelines become a triangle – impossibly coming together to form meaning and shape, as if time had no power to separate them. Indeed, Jake’s search is revealed as part of the ancient mystery.
This distinguished sequel to The Crimson Heirlooms follows two elusive heirlooms—the Cross of Nantes necklace and the secret lyrics to the devil’s song—and their link to three families. In 1788 France, Estelle Guerrier, who wears the Cross of Nantes necklace, and French nobleman Xavier Traversier, whose family lost the necklace decades before, meet serendipitously after Xavier’s coach runs into and injures Estelle. They begin courting and discuss marriage until a betrayal by Xavier sends Estelle, a righteous and saintly young woman, into a spiral. Her playwright twin, charismatic and good-looking Guillaume (called Beau-Brave), gets his big break with a dark, voodoo-themed play, but success is short-lived, when, citing blasphemy, authorities close the show and Beau-Brave disappears. The story’s alternates with a plot set in 1832 Haiti, where American Jake Loring is forced by a mysterious man working with French police to search for the heirlooms. Generous, well-informed debate between characters about social, religious, and political philosophy of the time provide enlightenment and wisdom. This epic treasure hunt is well worth readers’ time. (Self-published.)