Wednesday, 4 September 2013

God's Spy by Juan Gomez-Jurado

Pope John Paul II has died and the Cardinals have gathered in Vatican for the funeral and the conclave that follows where the new Pope would be elected. In the meantime a serial killer is killing the Cardinals. Paola a psychological profiler, Dante who works for the Vatican, and Pontiero are asked to handle the case discreetly, to catch the killer and stop further killings. Father Anthony Fowler of former CIA also assists them. The investigators start off as a trio, with Pontiero and Dante constantly bickering, and Paola acts as a foil between them defusing tension. And then Pontiero is pulled off the equation and Fowler becomes part of the trio and again there is tension between Dante and Fowler making me wonder if Paola is the only women in Vatican.

From the outset we know who the killer is, they just have to catch him. How difficult would be to catch somebody in Vatican with just a few million paying respects to the dead Pope? Why is a psychological profiler in charge of the investigation as we already know who the killer is? There is a reason which comes out in the end.

The first half the story moves between the investigation in the present and the past of the serial killer. The story of the serial killer is narrated through transcripts of psychiatric sessions that slowly reveal the trauma and abuse both the killer suffered and he meted out to others which are very disturbing to read.

Some of the twists and turns are quite predictable. Why doesn't anybody ask even the obvious questions? If there is only one way to get inside a building and that way is heavily guarded, how could the killer have gone out? There is nice little twist in the end that I didn't see coming.

The story is based around real events and issues that the Catholic Church faces like the death of the Pope, the issue of sexual abuse meted out by Catholic priests and the Church's efforts to suppress the issue and struggle over modernisation of the Church giving it an authentic feel. If one wondered what happened to the Priests who abused children, did they face a trial, did they go to prison? It is shocking (even though we have read about it in newspapers) to learn that such Priests were generally shifted around to different Regions and when they become more dangerous they were sent to an institution that probably made them worse.

The author provides interesting details about the Vatican in the beginning like how the Petrol is cheaper than in Rome and the long queues at Petrol stations even when only few are given permits to buy in Vatican. The only reason I picked up the book from library because I wanted to read a Crime Fiction book based in Vatican for the European Reading Challenge 2013 hosted by Rose City Reader. Overall a little disturbing but an interesting thriller!

Orginally written in Spanish and this book is translated in English by James Graham.

1 comment:

oldspouse said...

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Sincerely,
Roger White
Austin, Texas