Title: The Fifth Gospel
Author: Ian Caldwell
In 2004, as Pope John Paul II’s reign enters its twilight, a mysterious exhibit is under construction at the Vatican Museums. A week before it is scheduled to open, its curator is murdered at a clandestine meeting on the outskirts of Rome. That same night, a violent break-in rocks the home of the curator’s research partner, Father Alex Andreou, a Greek Catholic priest who lives inside the Vatican with his five-year-old son. When the papal police fail to identify a suspect in either crime, Father Alex, desperate to keep his family safe, undertakes his own investigation. To find the killer he must reconstruct the dead curator’s secret: what the four Christian gospels—and a little-known, true-to-life fifth gospel known as the Diatessaron—reveal about the Church’s most controversial holy relic. But just as he begins to understand the truth about his friend’s death and its consequences for the future of the world’s two largest Christian Churches, Father Alex finds himself hunted down by someone with a vested stake in the exhibit—someone he must outwit to survive.
In a world where religious mystery can seem overdone, you wonder if a book with such an obvious Biblical title will be any good. Let me tell you it is! It is most definately worth getting through the book just for the end that you get. Not only is it competely unexpected, it is also realistic. It flows with the way the characters acts throughout the story.
We are seeing everything through Alex’s point of view and as a result, are as confused as he is for a majority of the book. It’s twisted and in the Vatican, where ambitions run high, there are many possible perpatrators. Each chapter brings along its own twist and each twist brings along its own backstory and complications. Yet, this book prevents you from feeling overwhelmed by the amount of possible suspects and all their entagling stories.
At the end of almost every chapter when a new twist or suspect was announced, I was ready to bang my head aginst the wall. How much more complicated could the story even get? But as the book goes own, the threads start untangling and finally…FINALLY, you start getting a better idea of what is going on. The clarity the book gives you in the lat chapter makes up for all the confusion you would have put up with till that point.
With such an intense murder investigation going on, one would think the entire think is shrouded in black (there is a little pun here read the book and tell me you found it!). But, a lighter side exists, this book is very real in that way. Alex has a family to take care of, a reason to not completely immerse himself into the investigations, a reason to ensure his safety. Yet, it for family that he delves deeper, it is to protect that which is as dear to him as his priesthood, if not dearer, that he descends into the mist surrounding this murder in the first place.
This book takes place entirely within the confines of the Vatican and the useage of the vocabulary can get some taking used to. I believe this is one of the reasons that I might not have picked up this book. With terms used by the church in place from the very beginning itself, it will take at the very least two chapters to find out why exactly the blurb points out that Alex is a Greek Catholic priest. But once you undersand why, it makes for a pretty good read.
Those who are patient. The first line might not draw you in in this book, it might for some people and not at all for others. This book is of a complex murder mystery with many layers surrounding it that need to be peeled away, one by one. As such, this books needs to be read in a single sitting. Don’t take this for those rushed train rides or even those mini-breaks in between your studies. Read this on a day when you find yourself feeling completely un productive, when you can’t think of any work that needs your immidiate attention. Sit down in a comfortable corner with a cup of coffee and feel like an intellectual as you read through this book.
The genre of the book might not suit everyone as well. This is not a book where the mystery is more important than the setting. It is the setting that makes this a mystery. So if finding out about the details of the Bible or Vatican City in general, isn’t your thing, this book is not for you. I wouldn’t reccoment that you read for the pure fact that it will bore you if that is the case.
As always, comment below to tell me what you think and whether or not you’ll read it…or have read it
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