“The Fifth Gospel” by Ian Caldewell; pub date March 3, 2015 ; ISBN 9781451694147
I haven’t read a religious thriller that interested me this much since Stephen Bransford’s “High Places” back in 1991 — I enjoy books that teach me something about history, and Caldwell’s book easily displays the meticulous research gathered over the ten years it took him to write it.
The murder mystery is multi-layered and well-thought-out. The complex relationship of Vatican history, architecture, and politics, Greek and Roman Catholic Church history (which I knew little about), and how criminal trials might play out under canon law are all experienced through the life of a truly likeable main character, Greek Catholic priest Fr. Alex Andreou, shows this book is the work of a passionate author and just-as-passionate editor. (And yes, I may have used way too many hyphens in this paragraph.)
What makes this thriller so exciting is that mostly takes place inside the Vatican walls – where the church holds all the power to arrest and condemn (or grant reprieve), and where Fr. Alex has always been under their watchful eye. (In fact, he was raised there.) Mr Caldwell provides a believable controversy concerning the Shroud of Turin, and skillfully discusses the reasons that might exist for a rift between the Eastern and Western Churches.
Thoroughly recommended to those who like historical trivia, puzzles, and a deftly-woven mystery.