Author: Ian Caldwell
Book Takes Place in the Country: YES
Author is from the country: NO
I have visited: YES
My fourth book for the year 2019. Finished reading 1/8/2019. I have visited Vatican City. I was there in 2017 as part of our 2 week trip to Italy. It is a beautiful place next to Rome, and I was fascinated that it is its own country. While we were in Vatican City, it was over the Easter Holiday, and we had a chance to visit the Sistine Chapel (stunning) and see the Pope in Person at his Wednesday Mass on the square (he rode very close to us - it was humbling). It is a beautiful place, and worth a visit if you are in Rome.
This book takes place in 2004. Pope John Paul is in his late years as Pope. An exhibit is about to go on display in the Vatican museum. Brothers Simon and Alex have been helping the artist - Ugo - get the exhibit ready for the world.
A week before the opening, Ugo is murdered and Simon is blamed. Locked away and refusing to talk, Alex tries to put together the pieces of the true story of Ugo's death. Alex is 100% certain his brother did not do this, and would not do this, but the evidence is either stacked against Simon, or missing.
As the pressure to free Simon mounts, Alex discovers things about the highest holy men in Vatican City. He struggles for the truth at every turn. And when the truth is finally brought to light, the men of the church struggle for reason.
This was a great book on a lot of levels. For one - I grew up Catholic, so I found the stories of the high holy men in the story enlightening. For another - the authro delves deep into the 4 gospels of the Bible comparing them to each other, which I really have never done. (it has been awhile since I have been in CCD). The Fifth Gospel is the Diatessaron (real thing) It is where the 4 gospels are fused together. And the center piece of all of it - is the Shroud that supposedly covered Jesus when he was taken down from the cross (also something that exists, but has been proven to be a fake)
My favorite parts of this book were where the gospels were compared and information about the stories of the Bible were brought to light. It gave me a lot to think about. The mystery and murder were, for me, secondary in my enjoyement of this book. I could see where the story was leading, even though the author keeps trying to lead the reader down different paths.
My biggest problem with the book would be two things. 1) everything seemed to be grave peril. Everyone had an agenda, and there was danger at every turn. It was fine for awhile, but after awhile, I felt the author should have backed off a bit. 2) keeping the audience in the suspense for suspsense sake.
Overall - this book was wonderful and I would highly recommend it. The story is captivating and I encourage you to read it for what how it was intended. A great history lesson.