Monday, January 5, 2015

The Fifth Gospel by Ian Caldwell

In The Fifth Gospel, an exhibit featuring a sacred relic is scheduled to open at the Vatican Museum. Just before the opening, though, the curator is murdered and a seemingly unrelated break-in occurs at the home of a Greek Catholic priest, Father Alex Andreou and his son Peter. When two crimes go unsolved, Father Andreou does his own investigation in hopes of keeping his family safe. That's not going to be easy, though, because the exhibit remains unfinished and any secrets that the curator may have discovered about the sacred relic are lost. It's up to Andreou to unscramble the clues, review the materials, and solve the mystery, but to do so could put lives at risk, including his own and that of his young son.

I loved this book! It was an interesting read featuring the Shroud of Turin and the Diatessaron, the Fifth Gospel. It's contains a fascinating mystery as well as with tons of information about the Catholic church. The amount of research needed to write a book like this must have been extensive. It's so well written, carefully laid out, and very well explained. Even though it's about the Catholic Church, I don't think you need to much about the subject matter to read and enjoy this book.

Father Andreou used Bible stories to explain some troubling events to his son and younger characters. I found this extremely interesting. I also liked that a few of the parts of the book parallel events from the Bible.

I should mention that I was raised in the Roman Catholic Church and while I'm still a believer, I no longer attend services. I haven't studied the Bible or any other religious materials, so much of the information was new to me. I certainly learned a lot about the Catholic Church. It wasn't overwhelming or too much like a textbook. The information about the split in the churches and how the Roman Catholics differ from the Orthodoxy was particularly interesting to me. I also learned quite a bit about the gospels, other religious texts, Vatican city, St. Peter's Basilica, and surrounding areas. The information about Pope John Paul II, his papacy, and the other dignitaries in the Church was all fascinating.

I love books that shed some light on the mysteries of the Catholic Church. It's not that I want them to spill all of their secrets. It just would be nice if they were a bit more transparent.

I found the sections featuring Pope John Paul II particularly heartbreaking. The story takes place towards the end of his life. His struggle to continue serving the Church in spite of his debilitating illness was extremely hard to read about. Those sections left me in tears.

If I had one complaint it's that the ending seemed a little too simple. Perhaps it just seemed simple because the because the author did such a wonderful job of explaining the details and leading the reader through the mystery. Anyway, I don't want to go into too many details because that would spoil the ending.

I also read The Rule of Four by this author. It was before I started writing reviews and quite frankly I don't remember much about it other than I really liked it.

Highly recommended. I just hope we don't have to wait another ten years for Caldwell to give us another book.

For more information about this book, please visit Simon & Schuster's website.

I'd like to thank those nice people at Simon & Schuster for this review copy.

The Fifth Gospel by Ian Caldwell, Simon & Schuster ©2015. ISBN 9781451694147(Advance Reader's Edition), 427p.

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