Chase Baker and the Da Vinci Divinity (A Chase Baker Thriller Series Book 6)

 

PRAISE FOR VINCENT
ZANDRI

 

 

“Sensational … masterful … brilliant.”


New York Post

 

“(A) chilling tale of obsessive love from Thriller Award–winner
Zandri (Moonlight Weeps) … Riveting.”


Publishers Weekly

 

“… Oh, what a story it is … Riveting … A terrific
old school thriller.”

—Booklist “Starred Review”

 

“My fear level rose with this Zandri novel like it hasn’t done
before. Wondering what the killer had in store for Jude and seeing the ending,
well, this is one book that will be with me for a long time to come!”

—Reviews by Molly

 

“I very highly recommend this book … It’s a great crime
drama that is full of action and intense suspense, along with some great twists
… Vincent Zandri has become a huge name and just keeps pouring out one best
seller after another.”


Life in Review

 

“(The Innocent) is a thriller that has depth and substance,
wickedness and compassion.”


The Times-Union
(Albany)

 

“The action never wanes.”


Fort Lauderdale Sun-Sentinel

 

“Gritty, fast-paced, lyrical and haunting.”

—Harlan Coben,
New York Times
bestselling author of
Six
Years

 

“Tough, stylish, heartbreaking.”

—Don Winslow,
New York Times
bestselling author of
Savages
and
Cartel.

 

“A tightly crafted, smart, disturbing, elegantly crafted
complex thriller…I dare you to start it and not keep reading.”

—MJ Rose,
New York Times
bestselling author of
Halo
Effect
and
Closure

 

“A classic slice of raw pulp noir…”

—William Landay,
New York Times
bestselling author of
Defending
Jacob

 

 

 

 

“Why does the eye see a thing more clearly in dreams than the
imagination when awake?”

 

~Leonardo di ser Piero da Vinci

 

Table of Contents

 

 

 

Prologue

Chapter 1

Chapter 2

Chapter 3

Chapter 4

Chapter 5

Chapter 6

Chapter 7

Chapter 8

Chapter 9

Chapter 10

Chapter 11

Chapter 12

Chapter 13

Chapter 14

Chapter 15

Chapter 16

Chapter 17

Chapter 18

Chapter 19

Chapter 20

Chapter 21

Chapter 22

Chapter 23

Chapter 24

Chapter 25

Chapter 26

Chapter 27

Chapter 28

Chapter 29

Chapter 30

Chapter 31

Chapter 32

Chapter 33

Chapter 34

Epilogue

About the Author

 

Prologue

 

 

 

Vinci, Italy

April 1467

 

The bastard son is mesmerized by all that he observes.

Maybe what his father expects of
him is to keep his sharp, fifteen-year-old eyes glued carefully to the flock of
sheep he herds through the tall grass that covers the seemingly endless
foothills of Vinci. But, instead, he focuses on the early morning sunlight
shining through the leaves of scattered patches of tall trees. He studies the
birds flying overhead and nesting in the trees. The way they take flight by
simply falling into the sky with wings spread wide, catching the air with all
the ease, speed, and efficiency of a horse galloping along the dirt roads that
connect Vinci to Florence. The natural world that surrounds him is divine—a
gift from God—and it inspires him like nothing else.

His field of vision shifts and
he spots a farmer working a newly plowed field not three hundred meters away, pulling
seed stored in his cloak to sow. The boy feels something boiling inside him. An
idea automatically brewing. A better way to spread the seed. Something
mechanical so the farmer can produce more without so much wear and tear on his
body. The idea is there, but the boy can’t quite put his finger on the
mechanics of it all—the engineering. A cart perhaps, attached to a horse. A
machine like no one has ever seen before that will spread the seed so fast, the
abundance of food it will produce will be almost Godlike—Divine.

Dropping his walking stick, he
retrieves the sketch book hanging from his neck by a leather lanyard and he
once more watches the birds. His eyes capture their every movement in detail,
as if his brain is able to place their rapid action on slow motion. Pencil in
hand, he observes and he sketches. But he also thinks.

?ylf I t’nac yhW,
he writes in his curious, backward,
mirror writing. Finger-combing his long, lush, brown hair, he asks the same question
aloud.
“Why can’t I fly?”

He listens to the forceful sound
of the stream flowing at the bottom of the valley not far from where his stone
house is located, and he wonders:
Why can’t I swim like a fish?

He wants to do all of these
things, but he just doesn’t know how. If only he could talk to God directly,
ask him how to make the things he wants to make. Ask him how to make beautiful
drawings that take your breath away just by laying eyes on them. Only God
possesses such knowledge. Only God alone possesses the power and creativity.
The one, all-omniscient force that created the world. Surely a direct line of
communication with the Divine would give him the ability to make things beyond
not only his wildest dreams, but those of the entire world.

Then, coming from out of the
blue sky, a streak of lightning.

But this can’t be lightning,
because the trail is not vertical and jagged. It’s horizontal and straight as
an arrow led by an object that appears to be on fire. A spherical shape with a
triangle attached to its front. It reminds him of those horrifying, long-beaked
medicine masks the priests wear when confronted with those dying from the
plague. Only, this is not a mask. It’s some kind of craft and it has emerged
from the heavens. A bright fire trailing behind and it is flying as fast as the
swiftest swallow.

He puts pencil to paper, makes a
sketch. As detailed as he can make it in just a few seconds of time. Then, acting
on instinct, he runs after the trail of fire. Runs downhill, through the grass,
tripping once but bounding back up, never breaking stride, his notebook and
pencil spanking him in the chest.

Crossing over the dirt road, he
enters into another field that runs steeply downhill, the bottom of the hill
converging with another where it forms a wide streambed. He steps into the cold,
swiftly moving mountain run-off as it flows over his bare feet and shins.
Looking back up into the sky, he no longer sees the trail of lightning and
smoke. Instead, he sees nothing but blue sky and the occasional puffy white
cloud.

“Where did the flying machine go?”

He looks around ardently. He is certain
he saw the machine go down in this very spot. Or close to this spot anyway. But
if it went down here, why can’t he see it, touch it, feel it? There’s no
evidence it existed at all.

He decides to walk along the
streambed farther away from his home, the cold water numbing his flesh to the
point he can no longer feel his feet making contact with the ground. Facing a
steep hill, he begins to climb. It takes almost all his strength, but when he
comes to the top of the granite-topped peak, he looks down upon the other side,
only to see where the stream empties into a lake. It’s a beautiful, if not
pristine scene, that he would love to paint one day, but the primary object of
his fascination remains to be seen. There is no flying machine down there.

Dejected, he’s about to turn
back to find the sheep he abandoned in his quest, when something on a tree
branch on the hillside beside him catches his eye. Another bird. But this bird
is different from all the others he’s observed today.

This bird is a large hawk with
glassy, black eyes.

The hawk appears to be watching
him, communicating with him. Stepping down off the hilltop, he moves toward the
hawk. It takes flight and soars in perfect circles around the hillside,
descending in the direction of the lake each time it makes a pass.

The boy follows the hawk, moving
further downhill until the terrain gives way to a small field that abuts the
lakefront. A lake not much wider than the village of Vinci. As he comes closer to
the lake, he realizes he’s not alone. The flying machine he spotted shooting across
the sky is now hovering over the lake. The triangular shaped machine is shiny
on the bottom, as if it is made of the most polished metal, and as it floats
over the water it emits a hum. When a bright laser light shoots out of the
bottom of the craft, it strikes the lake. The water begins to ripple violently
and, at the same time, recede.

But how can that be? How can an
entire lake just begin to disappear the moment it is touched by a bright light?

Pushing his way through the tall
grass and coming around a stand of tall trees, he sees the lake water has
disappeared entirely, exposing a hole in the earth. A cave, to be more
accurate, that appears so deep it is filled with pitch black darkness.

“A grotto,” he whispers to
himself.

His mind spins out of control
thinking it could run as deep as the center of the earth and wondering if
perhaps he is the first person to discover it. He knows he must explore this
cave.

Other books

Lord Scandal by Kalen Hughes
Eagle (Jacob Hull) by Debenham, Kindal
Witch Dance by Webb, Peggy
The Elegant Universe by Greene, Brian
Rough Weather by Robert B. Parker
Scary Package by Mara Ismine