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Conclave: The bestselling Richard and Judy Book Club thriller

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But eventually it came free and he carried it on his outstretched palm to Tremblay, who took a pair of shears from the silver box – the sort of tool one might use to dead-head roses, thought Lomeli – and inserted the seal of the ring between the blades. What starts out as a usual process for choosing a new pope, soon develops into a plot with numerous complications, unraveling secrets long hidden, and just when you think you have it all figured out, a new twist to the storyline is thrown in. He weaves together all the issues confronting the church, and the contrasts between the cardinals – in matters of faith, temperament, politics and geography. While this book has nothing whatsoever to do with murder and police procedure it is as much of a suspense thriller as I have ever read. I have read other books about the Conclave so I had the basics down but Harris made it sing in a way that other books haven't.

A note from Robert Harris at the start of Conclave states that any resemblance between the late pope featured in the author's 11th novel and the current incumbent of that office is purely superficial. It's not unreasonable to assume that many cardinals would like to become pope, but as each one slips from grace, the whole thing starts to become a little daft. Waugh abt as good a novelist as one can be (ie as novelists go today) while holding untenable opinions. I could have done without the silly final twist, but on the whole this is a thoroughly entertaining book (and if nothing else, you will likely come out of it with a better understanding of how popes are chosen).

For me, I thought of it as a rather outré and admittedly unlikely possibility but nonetheless entirely legitimate eyebrow raising ending. Lomeli’s role means he has to liaise with the outside world during their supposed confinement and his assistants prove to be able co-conspirators (and of course there are nuns again, providing the catering). There is also an interesting discussion about Islam and how we welcome them to our Western countries, but we are certainly not welcome in theirs. As someone who had a notionally Catholic upbringing – I wouldn’t go so far as to say lapsed as I was never convinced to begin with – I felt keenly the contradiction between enjoying all these treasures and thinking that the wealth that purchased them should never have been appropriated from my ancestors in the first place.

There was a sudden snap and the metal disc depicting St Peter hauling in a fisherman’s net was severed. Robert Harris is the author of fourteen bestselling novels: the Cicero Trilogy - Imperium, Lustrum and Dictator - Fatherland, Enigma, Archangel, Pompeii, The Ghost, The Fear Index, An Officer and a Spy , which won four prizes including the Walter Scott Prize for Historical Fiction, Conclave , Munich , The Second Sleep and V2 . You might become bored by this dutiful recounting of facts, or you may welcome every eploying all possible resources, Conclave doggedly sets out to provide readers with the fundamental satisfactions of story: of sequence, configuration and organisation. As is generally the case in life, most displayed, despite their priestly offices and high status, a variety of levels of ambition, greed, corruption and in some cases a genuine goodness and sense of vocation.The Pope was gone before Lomeli arrived at his side, and he is grieving, not wanting to face the responsibilities that are now facing him.

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