As gifted as any of the Old Masters, John Andrews has an extraordinary artistic talent. He also has an extraordinary secret – at almost 600 years old, the reclusive artist now living in England's Lake District is still as youthful as he was back in the 1460s.
Born Luca di Stefano in 1427 in Tuscany, he is apprenticed to the great Renaissance fresco painter, Piero della Francesca. Luca enjoys perfect health – no disease ever touches him – but as the years pass, he realises that there is something else profoundly mysterious about him: he is not ageing.
At sixty, his youthful looks become a threat to his life when a fanatical and over-zealous Church wants him burnt at the stake as an heretic, a servant of the Devil. Fleeing to Naples, he adopts a new identity and starts a new life, the first of many artistic personas through the centuries. But the threat of discovery and its consequences are never far away.
Fast forward to 2009 when John’s DNA is profiled. As the mystery of its full significance is slowly unravelled, his existence is again threatened: it is not only geneticists who are interested in his incredible DNA, there are others desperate for the secret of John’s longevity who will stop at nothing to get it.
An international, fast-moving suspense thriller, Rare Traits interweaves the present and the past, self-preservation and murder, art history and forensic science as it unfolds John Andrews' tale. It traces his lovers, his families, his enemies and friends, and the challenges he faces in order to survive. For no matter how long he lives, John can never stop looking over his shoulder.