Good Minds Suggest—Ian Caldwell's Favorite Books About Vatican CrimeMarch, 2015
Thanks to pickpockets frisking the tourists, Vatican City has one of the highest crime rates per capita in the world. It's a strange quirk of statistics, yet this bizarre fact hints at the darker crimes witnessed by the Holy See, the world's smallest country, which, of course, has its own laws and system of justice. Author Ian Caldwell spent ten years researching life in the Vatican, including its shadowy legal system, to pen his new murder mystery, The Fifth Gospel. In this layered thriller, after his brother is arrested for the murder of a museum curator, Father Alex Andreou investigates a possible conspiracy circling the curator's controversial work on the Shroud of Turin and the Diatessaron, the "fifth gospel." Caldwell, who cowrote the 2004 bestseller The Rule of Four with his childhood friend Dustin Thomason, shares his favorite books about real-life dastardly deeds in the holy city.
Render Unto Rome: The Secret Life of Money in the Catholic Church by Jason Berry
"Catholic investigative reporter Berry has a long track record as a whistle-blower in recent Church scandals. Though there are more detailed and abstruse books about how the Vatican gets and spends its money, including about the Vatican Bank calamities of 20 and 30 years ago, Berry brings questions of Vatican financial impropriety into more recent times. He's also a shoe-leather reporter rather than a forensic accountant, which means you don't have to be a CPA to follow the story."
A Thief in the Night: Life and Death in the Vatican by John Cornwell
"Many readers know John Cornwell as the author of the controversial Hitler's Pope, but 26 years ago he wrote this astonishing first-person memoir of his Vatican-approved quest to debunk the rumors that Pope John Paul I had been murdered in 1978 after a papacy of only one month. The rumors were wrong; the truth, including an eye-popping portrait of the Vatican as Cornwell found it, is more interesting."
City of Secrets: The Truth Behind the Murders at the Vatican by John Follain
"In 1998, a vice-corporal in the pope's Swiss Guard shot and killed his commander, his commander's wife, and then himself, all inside the Guard barracks within Vatican walls. The rumors that swirled after this one ran the gamut from love triangle to international espionage, but British journalist Follain used his stint as Vatican correspondent to get as much of the truth as possible."
Sua Santità by Gianluigi Nuzzi
"Yes, this one's in Italian, but it's also the book that created the VatiLeaks scandal. Pope Benedict's butler approached Italian journalist Nuzzi with his story, and the rest is history. The author won't win any awards for his writing, but the gold here is in the cache of insider documents reprinted at the end."
The Vatican Diaries: A Behind-the-Scenes Look at the Power, Personalities, and Politics at the Heart of the Catholic Church by John Thavis
"A veteran Vatican reporter's backstage look at the headquarters of Catholicism, including a chapter on the infamous Father Marcial Maciel Degollado. What makes this book stand apart from the others on this list, though, is that it shows us the Vatican in the round, offering portraits not only of a notorious criminal but also of decent, hardworking clergy, unexpected eccentrics, infuriating Church bureaucrats, and the whole cast of characters to be found in one of the world's most unusual places. In other words, unlike some other Vatican crime stories, this is fortunately not just Church-bashing in disguise."
Vote for your own favorites on Listopia: Vatican Thrillers