The Corner

An Alternative to Angels & Demons

The Tom Hanks/Ron Howard movie opens this weekend, and while the trailers look promising — Rome is, for my money, the most photogenic city in the world – this film may turn out to be a plodding bore, just like the film version of The Da Vinci Code. There is an alternative: Hot off the presses this week is a fast-paced novel from Ignatius Press titled The Death of a Pope — a conservative church-conspiracy thriller by British author Piers Paul Read. The story has to do with weapons of mass destruction, globetrotting romance, and the conclave to elect a new pope. Sound familiar? Dan Brown has this formula down pat — his statements about history, science, and theology are total balderdash, but the man does know how to write a page-turner. Read’s style is several notches above Brown’s, though, and The Death of a Pope delivers some of the same thrills. (There’s even a typo, on page 69, that made me smile: “The professors . . . were recklessly analysing the new ideas of Cougar, Rahner, and Schillebeeckx.” No, there was not a famous liberal theologian who physically resembled Kim Cattrall or Hillary Clinton; Read must be referring to Yves Congar. But I like the image anyway.)

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