Ten years ago, Ian Caldwell and Dustin Thomason's "The Rule of Four "became a literary phenomenon that sold nearly two million copies in North America and was hailed by critics as "ingenious...profoundly erudite" ("The New York Times)," "compulsively readable" ("People"), and "an exceptional piece of scholarship" ("San Francisco Chronicle"). Read more...
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Ten years ago, Ian Caldwell and Dustin Thomason's "The Rule of Four "became a literary phenomenon that sold nearly two million copies in North America and was hailed by critics as "ingenious...profoundly erudite" ("The New York Times)," "compulsively readable" ("People"), and "an exceptional piece of scholarship" ("San Francisco Chronicle"). Now, after a decade of painstaking primary research, Ian Caldwell returns with a masterful new thriller that confirms his place among the most ambitious popular storytellers working today.
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.
At once a riveting intellectual thriller, a feast of biblical history and scholarship, and a moving family drama, "The Fifth Gospel "is "a story of sacrifice, forgiveness, and redemption. Peppered with references to real-life people, places, and events, the narrative rings true, taking the reader on an emotional journey nearly two thousand years in the making" ("Library Journal, "starred review).
Publishers Weekly® Reviews
- Reviewed in: Publishers Weekly, page .
- Review Date: 2015-01-12
- Reviewer: Staff
Caldwell follows 2004’s The Rule of Four (cowritten with Dustin Thomason) with another superior religious thriller, notable for its existential and spiritual profundity. Set in 2004 in and around the Vatican, the story revolves around two brothers: Alex Andreou, a married Greek Catholic priest who’s estranged from his wife and lives with his five-year-old son; and Simon Andreou, a Roman Catholic priest who works as a diplomat. Both brothers are involved with a controversial museum exhibit involving the Shroud of Turin. Dr. Ugolino Nogara claims that he has proven that the carbon tests dating the shroud to the medieval period are wrong, and that it is indeed the burial cloth of Jesus Christ. When the exhibit’s curator is found murdered and Simon is arrested, Alex sets out to find the truth—and becomes entangled in a grand-scale conspiracy that could resurrect a “poisonous ancient hatred.” An intelligent and deeply contemplative writing style, along with more than a few bombshell plot twists, set this one above the pack, but it’s the insightful character development that makes this redemptive story so moving. Agent: Jennifer Joel, ICM. (Mar.)
A smart Vatican thriller
Ten years ago, Ian Caldwell and his co-author, Dustin Thomason, struck gold with The Rule of Four, a page-turning academic mystery with emotional depth. Now, after a decade of research, writing and rewriting, Caldwell is back with a solo effort, a new novel that promises to live up to The Rule of Four. And The Fifth Gospel delivers, with compelling characters, impeccable pacing and a central enigma that is as intellectually satisfying as it is emotionally harrowing.
The year is 2004, and Pope John Paul II is nearing the end of his time leading the Roman Catholic Church while still working to fulfill a few final wishes. The Vatican is rocked, though, when a curator turns up murdered in Rome just a week before he was set to unveil a powerful new exhibit in the Vatican Museums. When police can’t find a suspect, Greek Catholic priest Alex Andreou—a friend of the curator and expert on the Gospels—takes it upon himself to unravel the mystery, one that concerns a mysterious fifth Gospel manuscript, a legendary relic and a secret that could shake the church to its core.
Caldwell constructs the novel’s central puzzle masterfully, weaving between past and present, danger and intrigue, codes and obfuscations at a blistering pace that makes the more than 400-page novel breeze by. But the key to The Fifth Gospel’s effectiveness is Alex’s emotional, intense point of view. Caldwell has woven a tale that’s as much about brotherhood, faith, the sins of the past and what it means to atone as it is about the central mystery and its faith-shattering secrets. The Fifth Gospel is rooted in a powerful, very human emotional core.