*I received this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. Thank you Simon & Schuster Canada!*
Title: The Fifth Gospel
Author: Ian Caldwell
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Publication Date: March 3, 2015
Synopsis from Goodreads:
In 2004, as Pope John Paul’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. The same night, a violent break-in rocks the home of the curator’s research partner, Father Alex Andreou, a married Greek Catholic priest who lives inside the Vatican with his five-year-old son.
When the papal police fail to identify a suspect in the robbery, Father Alex, desperate to keep his family safe, undertakes his own investigation into both crimes. His only hope of finding the killer is to reconstruct the dead curator’s final secret: what the four Christian gospels—and a little-known, true-to-life fifth gospel named 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, a secretive tribunal is convened to try the murder—and when Father Alex learns the identity of the accused, he is devastated. Now he must navigate the ancient and perilous legal system of the Catholic Church, which offers no presumption of innocence, no jury, and no right to face one’s accuser. As evidence vanishes and witnesses refuse to testify, Father Alex realizes the system is controlled by someone with vested stakes in the exhibit—someone he must outwit to survive.
There seems to be a lot of hype for The Fifth Gospel since it’s been 10 years in the making and Caldwells first novel, The Rule of Four was quite popular. I hate to be the one who didn’t like it, but this book just didn’t cut it for me. It took me way too long to get through it. I’m always up for a good thriller, especially one steeped in religious conspiracy, but The Fifth Gospel, for me, moved slowly and struggled to hold my attention. Granted, I will state, for the record, that this book was given the unfortunate time slot of being read while I moved and got settled into a new apartment, so perhaps it didn’t get the attention from me that it deserved.
The mystery of the story surrounds the death of curator Ugolino Nogara and his search to prove the authenticity of the previously disproved Shroud of Turin. The facts and the exploration of religious artifacts are more than fascinating. They build a gripping story of biblical history, thievery, murder, and scandal. But as I stated before, I had a hard time staying focused on the plot and the slow points of the story seemed to never end for me. I also struggled with the character of Alex. While I admired his courage, his loyalty, his devotion for his son, his capacity for forgiveness, his dedication and devotion, and his deep love for his brother, I found his actions generally to be rash and not thought out. He rarely seems to think through the consequences, to the point where is actions may have dire impact on the murder trial taking place. I can see that he’s driven by the shock of the whole situation that’s affecting all of those close to him. However I often found his actions hard to believe.
Overall, not really my taste of book. I was hoping I’d be pleasantly surprised, but I really couldn’t get into it. I hope you enjoy The Fifth Gospel more than I did.