Patrick Gibson's Reviews > The Third Secret

The Third Secret by Steve Berry
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Jan 06, 11

bookshelves: thrill_me_kill_me
Read in January, 2011

All novels of Vatican misdeeds follow a tried and true cast of characters, and formula. The good Pope v. the bad Secretary of State; the Pope's confidant - a good priest on the verge of loosing his faith; the conflicted journalist, in this case doing double-duty as the romantic interest (a knock-out, as usual) and the well placed allies and adversaries of the above, doing battle for the heart and soul of a Church steeped in mystery and locked in crisis - "The Third Secret," is no different.

The book's opening chapter, a re-telling of the Blessed Virgin's appearances at Fatima is so poorly written (third grade level,) I almost gave the book a toss, but as a fan of the genre I decided to persevere. I'm glad I did, because Mr. Berry has constructed a page-turner.

Though the characters are stock, Mr. Berry has filled them out enough beyond cliché to make them interesting. If they aren't three dimensional, they are at least 2 ½ dimensional - good enough for a pot-boiler. The villains aren't completely villainous; and the good guys suffer enough turmoil and doubt to ground them.

Mr. Berry is well steeped in the inner workings of the Vatican, and gives new twists to the life of the Curia, the politics of the Church's princes, and the mechanics of papal ascension.

The plot takes some interesting turns as it revolves around the unveiling of a hitherto missing portion of the third secret of Fatima, hence the title. The secret has caused Pope's to tremble, and if revealed will shake the Church to its foundations. Without giving anything away, suffice it to say the Virgin Lady anticipated today's culture wars, and decided to side with the ultra-left wing of Catholicism. The message turns out to be even more laughable than the jokes that it has inspired through the years, and unfortunately for the novel, suspension of disbelief goes right out the window as soon as the secret is revealed. A pity, because I thought Mr. Berry was on to something bigger than a wish-list of ultra-liberal fantasies.

"The Third Secret," is a good beach, or airplane read - perfect for the summer - a cut above "Angels and Demons," though most everything is; but, because of its dénouement, as unsuccessful as any other title in the genre.
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