Carbon-14: The Shroud of Turin

Book Cover


1980s & '90s

Russell A. Williams (R.A. Williams)

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A criminal justice major named Amari Johnston makes a shocking discovery that discredits the carbon date performed on the Shroud of Turin. She teams up with a brilliant physicist named Kevin Brenner, and together they evade a serial killer as they work to bring their case to the Vatican.



Short Summary

Detective Pete Johnston believes the murder of a priest is tied to the carbon dating of the Shroud of Turin. Pete’s daughter, Amari, is a student at the University of Arizona. After she makes a discovery that proves the carbon date invalid, she becomes the next target of a serial killer.

After Amari teams up with a young physicist at the university, they go to Turin, Italy, so they can convince church officials to allow more testing on the Shroud. On their way to the Cathedral, they evade the serial killer, who finally dies after being shot and incinerated by his own fire grenade.


Tucson, Arizona and Turin, Italy

Based on a True Story


Plot - Premise

Overcoming Monster/Villain,Internal Journey/Rebirth,Quest

Plot - Other Elements

Happy Ending,Meaningful Message,Philosophical Questions,Twist

Mature Audience Themes

Information not completed

Main Character Details

Name: Amari Johnston

Age: 22

Gender: Female

Role: Protagonist

Key Traits: Adventurous,Aspiring,Aggressive,Confident,Decisive,Faithful,Heroic,Educated,Honorable,Religious,Blunt,Outspoken,Skillful,Romantic,Strong Moral Code,Unapologetic

Additional Character Details

Name: Dr. Kevin Brenner

Age: 25

Gender: Male

Role: Sidekick

Key Traits: Aspiring,Charming,Faithful,Engaging,Heartthrob,Heroic,Educated,Honorable,Modest,Religious,Selfless,Skillful,Visionary,Funny,Romantic,Strong Moral Code,Unapologetic

Additional Character Details

Name: Homicide Detective Pete Johnston

Age: 54

Gender: Male

Role: mentor

Key Traits: Aspiring,Aggressive,Complex,Confident,Decisive,Desperate,Faithful,Heroic,Educated,Leader,Unapologetic,Strong Moral Code,Skillful,Outspoken,Blunt,Religious,Masculine

Additional Character Details

Name: Jeremy

Age: Weiss

Gender: Male

Role: antagonist

Key Traits: Aggressive,Complex,Crazy,Criminal,Desperate,Lone Wolf,Unapologetic,Secretive,Visionary,Villainous

Development Pitch

The Shroud of Turin is the most studied relic on earth. More than 99 percent of the evidence suggests the Shroud is the authentic burial cloth of Jesus Christ. Only one test says otherwise—the carbon date performed in 1988. After a serial killer and arsonist targets the faithful of Tucson, Arizona, homicide detective, Pete Johnston, works to catch the killer before more clergy are killed, before more churches are burned. His daughter, Amari Johnston, a feisty descendant of a Navajo war chief from her mother’s side of the family, is a criminal justice major at the University of Arizona. When the Shroud is carbon dated at her university, the results reveal that the relic is a medieval forgery. Amari investigates this ancient cold case file for a class project and makes a shocking discovery that could alter the fate of Christianity. Amari teams up with Dr. Kevin Brenner, a brilliant young experimental physicist. Despite their differences, an unlikely romance develops between the two. Together they gather evidence so they can plead their case to the Vatican. When Amari appears on the national news, she draws the attention of the serial killer. Her father desperately tries to protect her and catch the killer before she becomes his next victim. This novel, because of the controversy surrounding the Shroud of Turin, would be an exciting and intriguing movie that can be enjoyed by adults. And because of its young protagonists, young adults and teens should enjoy it as well.

About The Author

Russell A. Williams draws from his background in psychology and sociology to write compelling, spiritually-based thrillers, mystery and suspense, and time travel fantasies. His published works include five novels: Carbon-14: The Shroud of Turin, The Cult of New Canaan, Sixty-Five Roses, The Class of 86, and The Gospel According to Todd. His shorter works have appeared in The Christian Communicator, Encounters With God, and Dreams and Visions.

Target Audiences

Age: 13-17,18-34,35-54

Target Gender: Universal,Female Leaning

Group Specific

Information not completed

Publishing Details

Status: Yes: self-published

Publisher: Self-Published

Year Published: 2017

Hard Copy Available







Amari is a college student, studying art but with a affinity for uncovering mysteries . Her estranged father, a detective, is looking into a case of a murdered priest. The Shroud of Turin, the clothe Jesus was buried is being debated for its authenticity. Amari goes on a quest to prove that the shroud is authentic while the killer is closing in on her.

Overall Rating


Point of View


Narrative Elements

Authors Writing Style: FAIR

Characterization: FAIR

Commerciality: FAIR

Franchise Potential: GOOD

Pace: GOOD

Premise: GOOD

Structure: GOOD

Theme: GOOD

Accuracy of Book Profile

Yes, the book profile accurately reflects the book.

Draw of Story

The opening scene is of a murder, setting up the plot. A priest is rushing to take a confession in the middle of the night from someone he believes is suicidal. The person is a religious fanatic who is there to kill the priest in the confessional. The first chapter draws you into the story.

Possible Drawbacks

There are a lot of unnecessary parts of the story that do not drive the story forward. Amari is on a quest with Kevin and there is a lot of time devoted to their developing relationship. There is a lot of emphasis on who is a Christian and who is not. This will be a drawback for appealing to a wide audience.

Use of Special Effects


Primary Hook of Story

The hook is that the Shroud of Turin is being carbon dated for authenticity, but a killer is on the lose. He is hell bent on stopping Amari and Kevin from letting the truth come out.

Fanbase Potential

This could have a large fanbase depending on how the story is spun. There is a large religious element with the priest, the Vatican and the main characters that may not appeal to a wide audience.

Awards Potential

This could have awards potential. It has the dramatic elements of other religious stories such as The Davinci Code. The villain has a dark past which can be developed and create more depth in the story.

Envisioned Budget


Similar Films/TV Series


What’s New About the Story

The originality lies in the Shroud of Turin and the use of Christianity combined with science. Many times, it is science or religion. Outside of this, the story follows a typical quest/thriller story plot.

Lead Characters

Amari is a smart ,young girl who is half Navajo Native American. She is trying to follow her mother's dreams for her but ends up following her father's footsteps. She is determined and persistent in finding the truth about the shroud. She does not stand out in any unique way.

Uniqueness of Story

This is not a rare gem as it is. The story is true to its genre, though. Amari's Navajo heritage is mentioned a great deal in the beginning but does not seem to matter in grand scheme of the book. It would be interesting to incorporate that into the quest for truth about the shroud.

Possible Formats

TV Series - Cable, TV Series - Streaming

Analyst Recommendation



This story is a consider rather than a “Recommend” because there isn't much special about it. The dialogue is very basic. The characters are very open and honest with very little intriguing conversations. There needs to be an update of some of the terms in describing the Navajo. They use Indian to describe the Native Americans. There are a lot of cringeworthy moments in the writing that need to updated for today's audiences. It is a solid story, but the Catholic Church hiding secrets and a murderous priest with an abusive childhood may not be interesting enough for audiences. It's been done before.