James Patterson's Cradle and All pits the intensity of faith against the certainties of science within an arena of Millennial tensions. A reworking of his 1980 apocalyptic thriller Virgin, this remodeled version boasts a genuinely unnerving premise, amplified with Patterson's fast-paced, uncluttered prose.
In the midst of a series of unexplained plagues and famines, two teenage girls are heavily pregnant, despite being virgins. According to the sacred prophecies of Fatima, one will bear the child of Christ and the other, the spawn of Satan. Both Anne Fitzgerald, a former nun turned private detective, and the Vatican's Father Rosetti are sent to investigate. But which girl carries which child? The possibility of a miracle will be tainted with great suffering before the awful, unexpected truth is revealed. As the action moves speedily from the hallowed halls of the Vatican to the media frenzy of America to the small-town hysteria of Ireland, Patterson divines considerable suspense from the novel's central premise, tackling issues of faith with admirable aplomb:
"All over the world, after all the years of difficulty, decades of diminishing spirituality, so many people still believed.... Everywhere, people talked of the Apocalypse, perhaps the end of the world. Which explained why so many people were suddenly going to church."
A relentless pace culminating in a superbly twisted ending won't disappoint Patterson's faithful followers, and may even convert some new members. --Danny Graydon
From Publishers Weekly
His Alex Cross series (Pop Goes the Weasel, etc.) has made Patterson a top-selling author, but his most interesting work lies elsewhere: in his debut mystery, The Thomas Berryman Number; in last year's SF thriller, When the Wind Blows--and in this exciting and moving religious thriller about two pregnant virgins, one of whom may carry the Son of God and the other the Son of the Devil. If that plot line sounds familiar, it should. The novel is a reworking of Virgin, Patterson's second novel, published in 1980 by McGraw-Hill and long out of print. The narrative features the first-person/third-person narrative mix that's Patterson's trademark. The "I" belongs to ex-nun Anne Fitzgerald, now a PI. Her latest case for the Church involves investigating--and guarding--Newport, R.I. (i.e., rich), teenager Kathleen Beavier, who's eight months pregnant but, by expert medical testimony, a virgin. The Church is particularly anxious about Kathleen's condition because the Third Secret of Fatima (a real-life secret guarded by the Church since the Virgin Mary allegedly revealed it in 1917) prophesied two pregnant virgins: one bearing the Savior, the other the Devil's child. Anne eventually learns that indeed there's a poor girl in Ireland who's also pregnant, yet a virgin. Which girl carries which child? For texture, Patterson throws in some romance between Anne and a priest, but the novel's considerable suspense arises from his treatment of the central question as he speeds the action from America to Ireland to the Vatican, complicates it with a media frenzy over Kathleen, sharpens it as supernatural forces come into play and spins it with a wicked twist. While not subtle, this novel tackles issues of faith with admirable gusto. It could be a massive bestseller, appealing not only to Patterson's fans but also to those of the apocalyptic thrillers of LaHaye and Jenkins. 1 million first printing; $1 million ad/promo; Literary Guild main selection; author tour. (May)
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