Book Review of “The Magdalene Cipher” by Jim Hougan

TITLE: The Magdalene Cipher

AUTHOR: Jim Hougan

ISBN: 9780060846268

PUBLISHER: HarperCollins Publishers


RATING: 3 out of 5 stars


The ritualistic slaughter of a college professor right under the nose of CIA agent Jack Dunphy has damned the disgraced operative to a living hell of paper-pushing obscurity. But Dunphy’s not ready to surrender his career until he uncovers the truth behind his demotion ‘” embarking on a covert investigation that’s leading him into a world he never dreamed existed. And following a twisted trail of lies, Jack’s about to become ensnared in a monstrous international web spun by a secret society as old as civilization.

Escape is impossible ‘” because the players are too powerful, the consequences are too deadly . . . and what’s at stake is no less than the destiny of the human race.


I saw this book in a flyer for one of my many book clubs, and being a fan of Mary Magdalene, I added it to my wishlist. Someone sent it to me through Bookcrossing and I’ve sort of been sitting on it for a while, until someone else contacted me and asked if they could read it next. So I figured I might as well get it over with.

To be completely honest, I was expecting this to be a Da Vinci Code clone. The book was first published under the title Kingdom Come, and rereleased with a title that would obviously appeal to DVC fans (it’s a recipe for success, no? Name of someone from the book +synonym for “code,” viol ! Runaway bestseller in the making).

But I was surprised. Yes, eventually the book steers towards a secret society or church that believes Mary Magdalene gave birth to Christ’s child, but that doesn’t come up until well into the second half of the book. In fact, for most of the story, I found myself thinking the title was just a misleading attempt by the publisher to cash in on the whole DVC phenomenon.

The book is about a guy named Jack Dunphy who works for the CIA. When a London professor Dunphy was bugging is found murdered in a bizarrely ritualistic matter, Dunphy finds himself sentenced to menial office work back in the States. Some investigation on his part uncovers a secret section of the CIA whose sole duty it is to create what we think of as extraterrestrial activities ~ unexplained lights in the sky, the crash at Roswell, cattle mutilations, crop circles. The further Dunphy goes, the more he discovers that these activities are believed to be signs of the “end times,” and the secret church known as the Magdalene Society has created these activities to “force” the change it wishes to see in the world.

Yeah, it’s a bit hooey. But it was a fast-paced read and there were scant mentionings of gay characters (though they were “bad” guys, or at least shady characters, so I don’t know what that says about the author’s view of homosexuality), so it wasn’t all about Dunphy and Clem. And there was no outright sex, thank God. The ending seemed a bit — I don’t know, unresolved? Almost as if there’s a sequel planned, though I haven’t heard of it if there is one.

All in all, a good book. Kept me reading, at any rate, through to the end. I probably wouldn’t have picked it up if it were titled Kingdom Come, so I guess the publisher knew what they were doing after all, eh?