cover image Conclave


Robert Harris. Knopf, $26.95 (304p) ISBN 978-0-451493-44-6

Thriller Award–winner Harris (Dictator) successfully dramatizes the selection of a new pope. In the near future, the pontiff dies suddenly of a heart attack, and the Vatican leadership works fast to ensure an orderly transition. The process is conveyed from the perspective of Cardinal Jacopo Lomeli, the dean of the College of Cardinals, a rational and sympathetic figure who a month earlier sought permission to retire to a religious order. As the cardinals gather from around the world to vote, factions quickly develop around the leading contenders, including Joshua Adeyemi of Nigeria, who’s seeking to become the first black pope, and Lomeli’s successor as the Vatican’s secretary of state, Aldo Bellini. Bellini gives Lomeli a glimpse at the hidden turmoil at the Vatican when he reveals that on the day of the Holy Father’s death, the dying pope confided to Bellini that he had lost faith in the church. As the maneuvering for command continues, Lomeli must try to steer a path toward consensus. This is another impressive outing from an extremely versatile author. [em]Agent: Michael Carlisle, Inkwell Management. (Nov.) [/em]