cover image The Seville Communion

The Seville Communion

Arturo Perez-Reverte. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt (HMH), $33 (400pp) ISBN 978-0-15-100283-2

Mysterious, deadly conflicts between history and modernity drive Spanish author Perez-Reverte's latest literate thriller (after The Club Dumas, 1997), an engaging tale of love, greed, faith, betrayal and murder set in contemporary Seville. When a computer hacker penetrates Vatican security to send an urgent, anonymous plea to the pope, Father Lorenzo Quart of the church's Institute of External Affairs--a sort of Vatican CIA--is dispatched to investigate. The hacker's message concerns a troubled 17th-century church in Seville, Our Lady of the Tears. Apparently, the dilapidated church ""kills to defend itself."" It stands in the way of a huge real estate deal, and two people have died there--in apparent accidents--as they brought pressure to condemn it. A handsome dandy who wears expensive black suits instead of a cassock and knows how to conduct himself in a fistfight, Quart prides himself on his discipline but soon finds it heavily taxed as he's embroiled with a bellicose, elderly parish priest, a blue-jeaned American nun and a stunning Andalusian duchess intent on saving the church from the businessmen (including her husband) who threaten it. Despite some unconvincing plotting and a few heavy-handed moments, Perez-Reverte's characters capture the imagination, and his dramatic Seville seduces his protagonist and readers alike. 75,000 first printing; $100,000 ad/promo; film rights to Canal Plus and Iberoamericana. (Apr.) FYI: The Seville Communion is appearing simultaneously with Vintage's paperback issue of The Club Dumas.