cover image The Pope's Assassin

The Pope's Assassin

Luis M. Rocha, trans. from the Portuguese by Robin McAllister, Putnam, $25.95 (400p) ISBN 978-0-399-15688-5

Only the most rabid religious conspiracy fans will be able to slog their way through Rocha's overlong, preachy third thriller involving the search for ancient religious artifacts (after The Holy Bullet). London journalist Sarah Monteiro joins her unrequited love interest, Fr. Rafael Santini, who's a Vatican secret agent, in a struggle between the Jesuits and the Vatican to control artifacts in the possession of London businessman Ben Isaac. Priests are being murdered for access to the artifacts, in this case the Gospel of Jesus and the bones of Christ. The usual crazy assassin with a serious sexual problem heads up a cast of characters so large that it's difficult to remember who's a good guy and who's evil incarnate. Endless religious historical lectures slow the action and add little to a plot that's difficult both to follow and swallow. (Apr.)