From Publishers Weekly
Whenever a Catholic priest shows up in a TV movie, it's an odds-on bet the plot involves sex or the seal of the confessional. The same holds true for this novel about American Cardinal Timothy Mulrennan, which is unabashedly reminiscent of the mid-century classic The Cardinal. Favored with the friendship of John Paul II, Mulrennan finds himself in line to succeed the Polish pope after his death. But he is also a lightning rod who draws the attacks of the Church's conservative wing; during the conclave in 2002 to elect a new pope, Mulrennan is attacked in the press by agents of Evangelium Christi, a conservative movement headed by another American, Cardinal Vennholme. Mulrennan has a couple of dirty secrets in his past, and their revelation would be a lot more dramatic if author Tobin hadn't deliberately stacked the deck in his main character's favor. When Mulrennan is blessed with visions of former popes or when his chief opponent is explicitly compared to Judas Iscariot, there's little doubt how the reader is supposed to feel. In much the same way that all hard questions become rhetorical when answered by blind faith, all questions of character and motivation become moot here. In Tobin's Vatican, there's very little of the crackling politics and vital theological debate that made Malachi Martin's The Final Conclave such a compelling read. (July)Forecast: Old-school Catholics and particularly those eager to speculate about the identity of the next pope are the core readership for this novel, which probably won't make much of a splash with general audiences.
Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information, Inc.
From Library Journal
The Pope is dead, and the College of Cardinals has convened to elect a new one. In the running is 64-year-old archbishop Timothy John Mulrennan, who finds himself under attack for decades-old sins. As he analyzes the history of the Catholic Church during the last half of the 20th century and the beginning of the 21st, Tobin (The Wisdom of St. Patrick) unfolds the archbishop's life through a series of flashbacks his time as a spy in Cold War-era Berlin; a tour as chaplain in Vietnam; his work as a parish priest in Newark, NJ, during a period of civil unrest; and his directorship of an abbey in New Mexico that ministers to problem priests. Throughout, Mulrennan ponders questions of faith. His endless prayers and introspective moments may put off some readers, but this is a well-researched history of the modern Church and an excellent portrayal of a man of deep spirituality. Ronnie H. Terpening, Univ. of Arizona, Tucson
Copyright 2001 Reed Business Information, Inc.