Conclave by Robert Harris
Having loved The Officer and the Spy, I was excited to pick up Harris’ most recent offering, especially because it tickled my “Da Vinci Code” button.
Conclave is, as you may have guessed by the title, set in the heart of the Vatican, immediately after the death of the Pope (a barely disguised Pope Francis). The politics of the Conclave begin almost before the Pontiff’s body is cold, with his chief advisors, top Cardinals and Papal wannabes all fighting for ascendency in the Sistine. The hero, and narrator of the story is Cardinal Lomeli, Dean of the College of Cardinals, onto whose aging shoulders the running of the Papal election falls. Lomeli attempts to keep himself neutral, treading a fine line between Cardinal Tedesco, the traditionalist, Tremblay, the North American hope, and Adeyemi, the man many think will be the first African Pope. But when a candidate no one has ever heard of before arrives in Rome, all bets are off and the favourites start falling fast. In typical Harris fashion, there are mysteries at every turn, old scandals, revelations aplenty and a thoroughly intriguing look into the machinations of electing a Holy Father.