Simon Toyne, author of the first in the Ruin trilogy Sanctus, returns with book two in the series and The Key is every bit as compelling as the first.

A vertical mountain of carved rock, The Citadel of Ruin is the oldest continually inhabited edifice known to Man, and the seat of the Catholic Church.

After the events detailed in Sanctus, an explosion has left three people with intimate knowledge of the secret of the Sacrament, previously only known to a handful of elevated Santi monks.

One of those three is New Jersey journalist Liv Adamsen, who traveled to Ruin to find the truth surrounding the death of her Sancti brother. As The Key opens, Liv lies in a hospital bed, suffering the effects of post-traumatic amnesia. Four doors away, survivor number two, Kathryn Mann, nearly deaf from the explosion, ponders her fate and that of her only son, Gabriel, survivor number three.

In the Vatican City, The Group, composed of three world financial heads, hastily meet with their fourth member, Cardinal Secretary Clementi. Clementi holds his own key: to the Vatican’s Bank. He’s used the Church’s independence and secrecy for the past years to hide the practices of past centuries that have left the Church rich in priceless arts and property but virtually without cash.

For The Group, Liv and the others represent ticking time bombs, threatening to destroy their carefully crafted plan. While inside The Citadel, with the abbot and prelate both dead from the explosion, elections must take place to secure The Citadels’ hierarchy. But their centuries-old secrets are slowly unraveling, as disease spreads and with it, unrest inside the compound.

The Key sucks you in, with its detailed settings and complex sense of history and traditions. The Globe and Mail says:  This is a gripping read, as fast-paced as any action movie and covering Rome to Ruin, and New York to the Middle East deserts, as Toyne fits together his complicated plot until it all makes horrible and terrific sense.