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Now, after a decade of painstaking primary research, Ian Caldwell returns with a new intellectual 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. The 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 vested stakes in the exhibit--someone he must outwit to survive.
At once a riveting literary thriller, a feast of biblical history and scholarship, and a moving family drama, The Fifth Gospel is a novel about the depths of sacrifice and the power of forgiveness. Rich, authentic, erudite, and emotionally searing, it satisfies on every level.
Customer ReviewsMost Helpful
By Amazon Customer on 02-25-16
A Necessary Review of a Masterpiece
I have neither written many reviews nor read many. At times it seems futile. I've always found it simpler to read the summary to see if I'm interested and see how many people enjoyed the novel by checking out the star breakdown.
I broke habit with this novel and I saw some ludicrous things. No review of this novel should include any comparison or even mention the name Dan Brown (I am hypocritical in order to make a point). There is nothing about this novel that resembles any work Dan Brown has ever done. Sure this is material that would fascinate Brown, but this novel provides a different type of magic.
I love Dan Brown , he's my favorite airport author. I'll grab his latest before boarding and travel on the edge of my seat.
But Caldwell is no airport novelist. His novels especially this one are cerebral, packed with adjectives and emotion. The religious conspiracy is actually the secondary topic. This is a novel primarily about complex family relations. A father and son, an uncle and nephew, an abandoned husbands attempts to cope with the reemergence of his wife and his sons glee, and more than anything its about two brothers.
There is no basis for comparison. This is a novel I had to work through along with the fantastic narration because there was so much more to it than I expected. Why?? I read reviews that prepared me for a Brown like novel. This like Caldwell's other work was so !such more.
55 of 57 people found this review helpful
By Carole T. on 03-13-15
Yes, but, "Been There; Done That"
Ian Caldwell is definitely a better writer than Dan Brown. He creates here a Vatican that breathes reality, and a Church that is rich in its beliefs and in its complexity. The characters have sincerity and could inhabit such a rarefied atmosphere. Church officials are especially well drawn and there are moments of great feeling.
Also, this is one of those books that takes you immediately to reviews of the work, details of the author's research, and wikipedia - loved being introduced to ancient manuscripts, unfamiliar branches of the Catholic Church, and new "evidence" about controversies like that surrounding the Shroud of Turin.
But there's no denying that there is much of the "deja vu" feeling about "The Fifth Gospel." Intriguing and thoughtful it may be, but it has been done before.
So a recommendation here is tricky. If you like religious and literary mysteries (with or without the conspiracy theories), then I'm pretty sure you'll like this. I went along quite willingly with the story and with the really wonderful narration of Jack Davenport.
37 of 42 people found this review helpful