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Michael Karpovage

Crown of Serpents
a Mystery Thriller

Publisher: Karpovage Creative, Inc., 2009.

Pages: 384 with illustrations and maps.
Price: $ 19,99

Available online at:

About the Book -Synopsis:

With the discovery of a campaign journal from an American Revolutionary War officer who fought against the Iroquois Indians, the U.S. Army calls in their top field historian to assess its contents. Jake Tununda, combat vet, half-Seneca Indian, and Freemason, is stunned when he gleans from the journal’s cryptic Masonic passages clues to the location of an ancient shaman’s crown once protected by the White Deer Society, a secret cult of his forefathers.

Jake soon realizes why his ancestors’ history was best kept buried. And why peaceful, rural central New York’s Finger Lakes region can be deadlier than any battlefield he had ever faced.

CROWN OF SERPENTS, a mystery thriller set in the former heartland of the Iroquois Empire, takes Jake on a fast-paced hunt to find the elusive crown — and protect it. He teams up with Rae Hart, an alluring state police investigator, as they snake their way across a politically turbulent landscape marked with murder, arson, lies, and deceit. Deciphering Freemason codes, digging up war loot, and fending off the henchmen of billionaire Alex Nero, a ruthless Indian casino magnate, Jake and Rae’s survival skills are put to the test. The clues to the crown ultimately lead them deep within sacred Indian caves hidden under the abandoned Seneca Army Depot where the magnitude of the crown’s power is revealed.

Michael-KarpovageAbout the Author:

Michael Karpovage is a native of New York and a graduate of Rochester Institute of Technology. Michael has worked in the design field for twenty years as an art director and map illustrator. He is also a Freemason from Hobasco Lodge No. 716 in Ithaca, NY but now he resides in Atlanta, GA. Flashpoint Quebec was his first novel.

What the Author wrote to PS Review of Freemasonry:

During the very last leg of the American Revolutionary War’s 1779 Sullivan-Clinton campaign, in what is now central New York State, a battlefield incident occurred between opposing forces that involved members of the Freemasons. The campaign was ordered by General George Washington as an invasion into Iroquois Confederacy lands in retaliation for several brutal massacres by British Rangers and Iroquois warriors against American frontier settlements supporting the fledgling Continental Army. Washington wanted Iroquois villages and crops to be destroyed in a scorched earth policy. Sullivan executed his orders to the fullest, ultimately destroying 40 villages. But during the end of that campaign, as Sullivan’s army approached the Seneca capital of Genesee Castle, the British and Iroquois ambushed a scout detachment led by Lieutenant Thomas Boyd, a young courageous yet cocky Freemason. His troops were surrounded and decimated. One of three survivors the wounded Boyd was captured and feared for his life. When he saw Mohawk Chief Joseph Brant approach - a captain in the British Army and also a Freemason - Boyd gambled on the fraternity and gave the universal sign of a Mason in distress, asking for protection under the fraternity’s obligation to save a fellow Brother’s life. Boyd's gamble paid off and he did receive that protection by the Native American chief, but a day later he was betrayed by another Freemason, the British Colonel John Butler who gave him to the Seneca Indians to enact their revenge. Ultimately, Thomas Boyd was tortured and mutilated for hours before being decapitated in one of the most heinous acts of murder in the Revolutionary War.

Fellow Brothers, I hope this teaser grabs your attention as it is a mystery to this day as to what really happened between those three Freemasons, enemies on the battlefield. But it is the basis for my newly released mystery thriller novel titled Crown of Serpents. Masons who have read Crown of Serpents have not only been thrilled and awed but educated throughout the story, based on the years of research I put into it and the myriad of subplots that will keep you on the edge. As a Mason myself I shed good light onto the Craft and hope to raise the public's awareness about us too!

And without giving too much away, this is a present day murder mystery with the main character being a U.S. Army historian, Native American, and a Freemason himself. He suddenly finds himself reading the unearthed campaign journal of Lt. Thomas Boyd which was recently discovered at Old Fort Niagara. What he finds in cryptic Masonic code are clues that lead him on a hunt to find an ancient Iroquois shaman's artifact - the Crown of Serpents and ultimately to unravel the mystery behind Boyd's death.

Historical Timeline

1142 A.D.: Atotarho, the ancient Onondaga wizard, reigned the lands as a brutal murdering dictator. After a meeting with Oeganawida, Hiawatha, and Jecumseh he suddenly reformed his ways. The evil snakes were combed from his hair and he emerged as a key founding figure in the birth of the Iroquois or Haudenosaunee Confederacy. 

1779: By this year the Iroquois Confederacy had expanded into the mightiest empire in North America until it was almost entirely destroyed during the Sullivan-Clinton campaign of the Revolutionary War. The Confederacy still remains intact to this day, although virtually powerless.

September 5, 1779: American scouts of the Sullivan-Clinton expedition rescued Luke Swetland in the Seneca Indian village of Kendaia. The Seneca had captured Swetland in Pennsylvania a year before. An elder clan mother spared his life and adopted him into the tribe. After the war, in his memoirs, Swetland wrote that the scouts, mistaking him for a Tory, stole a silver broach from his shirt and threatened his life. He also wrote of finding a secret cave in the side of a hill not far from the village, a place he took refuge in during the cold winter months of his captivity.

Septembr 13, 1779: American scout Lieutenant Thomas Boyd, a Freemason, along with two soldiers in his detachment, were taken prisoner by British and Iroquois troops during the Groveland Ambush at the end of the campaign. Fourteen others in his unit died in the fight. Mohawk Chief Joseph Brant, also a Freemason, failed to protect the prisoner Boyd from harm after Boyd had presented him the secret Masonic hail sign of distress. Boyd was turned over to Freemason British Colonel John Butler and the Seneca Indian warriors under Little Beard. The next day Boyd subsequently suffered the most heinous torture death of the American Revolution.

Early 19405: The U.S. government enacted eminent domain and acquired seventeen square miles of farmland in central Seneca County, New York for construction of the Seneca Army Depot and the Sampson Naval Training Base. Both bases were key weapons storage and training facilities during the second half of the 2Oth century.

1941: According to a construction worker and WWII veteran, during the Depot's construction a well shaft was sunk and struck an underground flow of water. Dye was added to detect the direction of the current and was soon discovered in Cayuga Lake to the east. Some say this is evidence of a real underground river linking the two largest Finger Lakes of Seneca and Cayuga. Others who have conducted research on this possibility have concluded it an absurdity.

Present Day: When the Depot became fenced in during the forties the famous white deer herd of the area was corralled and thus protected. They've since grown to become the largest white deer herd in the world.


Crown of Serpents is a work of fiction but based on well researched historical facts. Elements of the intricate plot cover Indian sovereignty in New York State, the famed Seneca Army Depot and white deer herd, military history of the 1779 Sullivan Campaign, and a true Masonic battlefield incident outside of Genesee.

Scenes are depicted at real locations across New York State including Old Fort Niagara, Tonawanda Indian Reservation, Conesus Lake, Rochester, Seneca County, the Catskills, and NYC.

The plot is very intricate but well conducted by the Author, the characters are well developed and the narrative is fluent. This mystery thriller grabs the reader and does not let go him until the end.

Definitely the novel is well written even though sometimes Karpovage indulges in acting as a screenwriter instead of a novelist, and Crown of Serpents surely could be a successfull action adventure movie.

Bruno Gazzo
Editor, PS Review of Freemasonry

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