Another Review for The Fifth Gospel

imageSam Coale, a professor of American Literature at Wheaton Colleges, in a special book review for the Providence Journal, Vatican thriller ‘The Fifth Gospel’ is a divine mystery, tells us:

If you liked Dan Brown’s "The Da Vinci Code," you will revel in this spectacularly intricate, psychologically probing, suspense churning and better written thriller-mystery by the author of "The Rule of Four." It took a decade for Ian Caldwell to write this book, and it’s all worth it with its fascinating analysis of the differences in the gospels, its focus on restoring the discredited Shroud of Turin to Christ’s actual burial cloth, its deliciously labyrinthine Vatican intrigue, its mix of cardinals, archbishops, a dying Pope John Paul II, lawyers, tribunals, priests and violent death.

This is a tale of two brothers, Simon, a tight-lipped, martyr-haunted Roman Catholic priest and diplomat, and Alex Andreou, a Greek Catholic priest whose love for his son knows no bounds, especially since his wife, Mona, left him. Ugo Nogara, an art curator, has discovered the Diatessaron, which has combined all four gospels into a single narrative, a fifth gospel, and may prove that the Shroud is real. He’s found shot dead on a stormy night at the Castel Gandolfo, after which someone breaks into Alex’s apartment.

I’ve been listening to the audio of the book, off and on, while walking the dog.  It’s good. Is a movie next? If so and if they don’t deviate too much from the novel, it will be more accurate than CNN’s piece on the shroud.

Read on: Vatican thriller ‘The Fifth Gospel’ is a divine mystery.

Inside the pope’s bedroom and more

imageOn February 4th, I blogged about A Most Anticipated Book of Spring 2015: About the Shroud of Turin. Publishers Weekly had picked a fiction book about the Shroud of Turin as one of The Most Anticipated Books of Spring 2015The book was The Fifth Gospel by Ian Caldwell.

At the time, I said the book would not be available until the middle of March.  Well, I was wrong. You can buy it, starting today, in Hardcover, Kindle and Audible.

Ian Caldwell, whose previous book, "The Rule of Four," was on the New York Times bestseller list for 49 weeks and translated into 35 languages, has a fascinating article in Salon, Inside the pope’s bedroom, Vatican secrecy and the lives of married priests: My 11-year quest to write “The Fifth Gospel”

imageThe novel’s genesis traces to 2003, when I came upon the surprising fact that our modern notion of Jesus’ physical appearance – the bearded, long-haired man of Christian art – goes back to about 400 AD, before which no one seems to have agreed what Jesus looked like.  The Bible offers no description, so where had this image come from?  Around the same time in history, mysterious relics appeared in the Christian East, purporting to be divine portraits of Jesus not made by human hands.  In 1978 a British scholar proposed that the cloth we know today as the Shroud of Turin might in fact be the most famous of these early relics:  an image widely known and revered in early Christendom.  Even though carbon-dating tests declared the Shroud a medieval fake almost 20 years ago, millions of faithful continue to travel to Turin during the Shroud’s periodic expositions, making this single cloth more popular than any museum on earth.  Increasingly, they share a conviction that today’s Turin Shroud is indeed that celebrated relic of times past.  Is it possible, then, that the Shroud is the most influential image in Christian history?  That, when it first emerged, it was considered so authoritative that all subsequent images of Jesus can be traced to it?

There is this:

In the years that followed, I would buy 600 research books on the Vatican, all of them aimed at solving one question or another in this way.  The books would arrive at my door from almost every country in Europe, including the Vatican itself.  My private obsession to know the history and appearance of every building within the pope’s walls, and as much as possible about the important rooms within them, provided a welcome distraction from the harder work at hand:  understanding what Catholics believe about Jesus.  For, in order to do that, I could no longer rely just on books.

Today, looking back on it, the terror of reaching out to my first priest seems overwrought.  In the time since that first interview, I have traded phone calls and emails with Holy See diplomats, Vatican priests, Church lawyers, the wives of Eastern Catholic clergy, the Jesuit former editor of America magazine, and the papal caretaker of the Shroud of Turin.  That first time, though, unnerved me.

And much, much more.

Of this new novel, world renowned novelist David Baldacci writes, “Masterful…The Fifth Gospel is that rare story: erudite and a page-turner, literary but compulsively readable. It will change the way you look at organized religion, humanity, and perhaps yourself.”

A Most Anticipated Book of Spring 2015: About the Shroud of Turin

It isn’t available until the middle of March

imagePublishers Weekly has picked a fiction book about the Shroud of Turin as one of The Most Anticipated Books of Spring 2015The book is The Fifth Gospel by Ian Caldwell by Ian Caldwell.

It is available in Hardcover, Various EBook Formats, including Kindle, and as an Audiobook. 

Here is what some of the journals have to say:

  • “A superior religious thriller, notable for its existential and spiritual profundity . . . An intelligent and deeply contemplative writing style, along with more than a few bombshell plot twists, set this one above the pack, but it’s the insightful character development that makes this redemptive story so moving.” Publishers Weekly (starred review)
  • “Captivating . . . This thriller is, at its heart, a story of sacrifice, forgiveness, and redemption. Peppered with references to real-life people, places, and events, the narrative rings true, taking the reader on an emotional journey nearly two thousand years in the making.”Library Journal (starred review)
  • “A brilliant work . . . Extraordinarily erudite . . . Caldwell makes intriguing literature from complex theology.” Kirkus Reviews (starred review)
  • “Here motives are nuanced shadows that are as hard to grasp for Alex as they are for readers. It is this very elusiveness, juxtaposed against a strong sense of place, that intrigues, making this the best kind of page-turner, one about which you also have to think.”Booklist(starred review)

And some famous authors:

  • “It’s been ten years since Ian Caldwell co-wrote The Rule of Four. The Fifth Gospel was more than worth the wait. For those who might compare it to The Da Vinci Code, don’t. This marvelous book stands alone and will become the very high standard for any novel in this genre. Masterfully plotted and extraordinarily researched, and written in a voice that never rings false, The Fifth Gospel is that rare story: erudite and a page-turner, literary but compulsively readable. It will change the way you look at organized religion, humanity, and perhaps yourself.” —David Baldacci
  • The Fifth Gospel is nothing short of groundbreaking—a literary feast wrapped around an intriguing murder mystery. Caldwell writes with precision and passion as he takes us on an emotional journey deep into the workings of the Vatican and deeper into the hearts and souls of the men and women who have devoted their lives to the Church. The Fifth Gospel is a cathedral where skeptics and believers alike may enter and all will leave transformed.” —Nelson DeMille

The storyline extracted from Publishers Weekly:

. . .  the story revolves around two brothers: Alex Andreou, a married Greek Catholic priest who’s estranged from his wife and lives with his five-year-old son; and Simon Andreou, a Roman Catholic priest who works as a diplomat. Both brothers are involved with a controversial museum exhibit involving the Shroud of Turin. Dr. Ugolino Nogara claims that he has proven that the carbon tests dating the shroud to the medieval period are wrong, and that it is indeed the burial cloth of Jesus Christ. When the exhibit’s curator is found murdered and Simon is arrested, Alex sets out to find the truth—and becomes entangled in a grand-scale conspiracy that could resurrect a “poisonous ancient hatred.” An intelligent and deeply contemplative writing style, along with more than a few bombshell plot twists, set this one above the pack . . .

Okay. I pre-ordered it. It isn’t available from Simon and Schuster until the middle of March. I ordered the audiobook and the synchronized Kindle version which lets me read some, listen some while I walk the dog, read for awhile . . . you get the idea.  When it is released it will suddenly appear, as though by magic, on my iPhone and my Kindle reader.