Thomas Gifford only wrote 4 books before he died in 2000. But they were GREAT books! I just found Assassinni and couldn't believe I missed it. So, here it is. I hope you read it and enjoy it as much as I did.
Ben Driskill gets a strange call from his sister, a Catholic nun, Sister Valentine, summoning him back to the family home. In the middle of a snow storm he finds her murdered in the family chapel. Sister Valentine is part of the "new order" of nuns who have real jobs and serve the church in what was once considered unconventional ways. She is an investigator of the church's history and atrifacts. And she has uncovered something or someone who wants the past kept a secret.
Unfortunately, at the same time as her murder, the Pope is dying of old age and cancer and the powers at the Vatican, and in many places around the world, have their own means and methods of determining who should sit on the Throne of St. Peter. And these methods are not quite legal or ethical.
No one, it seems, wants to really find out who killed Sister Valentine, and Ben Driskill takes it upon himself, with the reluctant help of another nun, Sister Elizabeth, to find the truth. It is a credit to the author and the way he could twist and turn a plot till the reader had no idea who wore the white hats and who had black ones. The Cardinal's who make up the selection committee are a real piece of work and the politics fly fast and furiously. And when you throw powerful politicians and corporate CEO's into the pot - it gets even more intriguing. It took me most of the 600+ pages to find out that in the end, I had it wrong anyway.
There is obviously alot of research into the workings of the Church, the internal politics of the Vatican, archives and history. In all Thomas Gifford's books, you will find the same exacting detail. There are some parts of the book that resound a bit like religious hyperbole, but since the basis of the story is in the Catholic Church, it is expected. What is not expected is the personal questionings of faith in many of the people involved, and how they act and react to what is happening and information that is slowly uncovered.
This novel is pure suspense, excellent storytelling, superb character development and a roller-coaster ride that will keep you up till the wee hours of the night wondering "who done it?" And, I really liked the ending :)
Author: Thomas Gifford
Review by: CL7 Kali D'or