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It's a brave author who decides to wrtie a thriller about the election of a pope. After all the action is largely limited to a group of elderly men being locked away until they can agree which of them is going to be supreme pontiff. They are allowed no contact with the outside so it's hard to move things along with a little bit of extra infrmation coming in and changing things.

 

Robert Harris nearly pulls it off. He's very good at pacing his books, There is some tension as front-runners for the election drop out in one way or another, one or two mysterious things going on,  a completely unknown cardinal  turns up at the last mment and it become's apparent that the recently deceased pope had a prvate agenda of his own. Ultimately it fails to satisfy though, I felt that the cardinal who was elected to bepope was firstly a huge cop- out, secndly disticntly rpedicatable and thirdly not very believeable.

 

I don't regret reading it, the backgrund info about how popes are elected was fascinating and it was a page turner, it's just it's not one to look back on and savour.

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I do agree with Viccie's review. I found it very gripping and all the information on inner workings of the Vatican were extremely interesting. I also found the central character of Lomeli to be well drawn out, and clearly Harris has made a lot of effort to understand the mindset of lifelong Catholic cleric. However as is often the case, I found the ending to be very disappointing. 

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 I particularly can't understand why everyone at the last minute voted for Benitez? The circumstances pointed to an overwhelming consensus around Lomeli as the experienced, safe pair of hands. Benitez does make a mildly impressive interjection (but nothing compared with Lomeli's calm and capable management of several difficult incidents).Unless the author really is suggesting God's or the old pope's hand at work! 

 

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