Forgive me Father, for I have sinned…
It has been a year since my last review…
I know – it’s awful, isn’t it? But it’s something I intend to remedy right now.
“We do not need a church that will move with the world, we need a church that will move the world!”
I have always been a fan of Robert Harris’ work – in fact my decision to become a ghost writer largely came about as a result of reading his novel, The Ghost. However his last couple of novels hadn’t quite hit the spot for me – so I had rather drifted away from his work.
That was until I read Conclave.
The Pope is dead.
Behind the locked doors of the Sistine Chapel, one hundred and eighteen cardinals from all over the globe will cast their votes in the world’s most secretive election.
They are holy men. But they have ambition. And they have rivals.
Over the next seventy-two hours one of them will become the most powerful spiritual figure on earth.
I was initially drawn to this book by it’s subject. I am not a religious man, but something about the Catholic faith does fascinate me to a certain extent – particularly the process of choosing the next Pope. That being said, had it been any other writer, I might have passed over this book – whilst I was sure the process was very interesting, I would’ve doubted another writer’s ability to make the process exciting for a reader, whilst also being respectful to the Church in the process.
But this was Robert Harris – the writer who made the political elections in Imperium and the code breaking in Enigma so utterly tantalising. So, after a fair amount of internal debate, I decided to grab a copy.
And I wasn’t disappointed.
It has been a while since I was unable to put a book down, but this one definitely fits the bill. Harris weaves together a delicate story of religious politics, lying, backstabbing and deceit by making the cardinals so utterly human and – therefore – completely compelling. I’m sure there will be Catholics out there who will find some fault or another with the story, or will be upset by the depiction of the Church, but – as an outsider – I found it to be a very realistic story that actually made me feel a deeper understanding and respect for the religion.
Accurate or not, Harris manages to take the story of one hundred and eighteen old and pious men and turn it into a political thriller as exciting as any with a muscular, ex-military type running around trying to save the world.
A great read – Harris is back on form. 5/5.
Nick R B Tingley is a crime writer from the UK. After several years working as a ghostwriter, Nick released his debut novel The Bluebell Informant– the first in his DS Evelyn Giles series. He is currently working on the second in the series – The Court of Obsessions – as well as a Victorian-era mystery novella called The Butcher of Barclay’s Hollow.
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