This book had popped up on so many lists of books that people had rated, I was very excited to see my husband pick it up. I watched him read - not concentrating on my book, and when he couldn't put it down, late at night, and picked it up to read compulsively (it was holiday time), I knew.
I had no idea what it was about. Imagine my astonishment when I realised it started with the death of a pope, and that there were one hundred and eighteen cardinals, gathered together in the Vatican with 72 hours to elect a new one. Interesting, yes. An uputdownable page turner - even for a pastor - hmmm?
It was gripping, intense, subtle and clever. Robert Harris managed to turn this into a page turner of note. The intrigue oozed out of every paragraph. The imagery - the beautiful Sistine chapel where they met to vote every day; the cramped and simple quarters they stayed in; the garbed great men gathered with the heaviest of responsibilities - smiling and listening whiled they schemed and plotted. This was a heck of a book. We see through the eyes of Cardinal Lomeli, the dean of the cardinals who must oversee the process. and the secrets start emerging from the very start. I loved what Blair wrote - "a deeply intriguing political drama with the addictive qualities of a soap".
The fact that it is set in a time slightly in the future is perfectly done, and the level of research that has gone into this was astounding.
Lastly, if you are going to read this (and you would not be sorry), don't read any more reviews. Spoilers (even inadvertent ones) have the potential to do great damage to this story.
An unforgettable unputdownable thrilling 5 stars.
You may also enjoy Beneath the Surface by Jo Spain or A Great Deliverance by Elizabeth George.
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