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The Third Secret: A Novel Mass Market Paperback – November 27, 2007
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Set in the near future, Secret introduces Jakob Volkner--Pope Clement XV--a German "caretaker pope" who, nearing the age of 80, was elected as John Paul II's successor. But three years into his papacy, the thoughtful Clement has begun to quietly express skepticism about papal infallibility and the Church's restrictive dogma, and to make odd requests of his longtime secretary, Monsignor Colin Michener, an Irish-born but American-reared priest whose vows of celibacy have been tested--and found wanting. Clement has also made repeated visits to a guarded sanctum within the Vatican archives, where sacred and historic documents are stored. And he's dispatched Michener to Romania to locate an elderly cleric who, in the 1950s, translated three cryptic prophecies, purportedly offered by the Virgin Mary in 1917 to a trio of children in Fatima, Portugal. Those secrets have since been fully disclosed to the world. Or have they? Thats the question facing Michener in the wake of Clement's shocking suicide, as he pursues a twisted trail of clues, crimes, and religious forecasts from Rome to Bosnia to Germany, accompanied by his former lover, journalist Katerina Lew. But making any additional secrets known to the world will put Michener in confrontation with doctrinal reactionaries, led by Cardinal Alberto Valendrea, the Vatican's Italian secretary of state, who's determined to follow Clement as the Vicar of Christ--even if that requires inventing a few new sins and flouting a 900-year-old prediction of doom for the next pope.
Attorney-author Berry, praised previously for The Amber Room and The Romanov Prophecy, enriches The Third Secret with glimpses behind the locked doors of a papal selection process and knowledge of centuries-old Catholic prognostications that, while employed judiciously in these pages, nonetheless suggest a prodigious amount of research. He's less successful with his casting. Valendrea is a wincingly unnuanced scoundrel, and Ms. Lew achieves scarce definition beyond being a raven-tressed temptress to powerful prelates. Thankfully, Berry does better by Michener, who finds himself at a crossroads, carrying on in Clement's name even as he searches for confirmation that his own life of devotion and service has been meaningful. Although the secrets "revealed" in this tale seem more controversial than plausible, and a potentially intriguing subplot about the excommunication of a maverick priest ends up as a throwaway device, The Third Secret builds to a conclusion that is as suspenseful and stunning as it is inevitable. Have faith. --J. Kingston Pierce --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
From Publishers Weekly
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
Top Customer Reviews
An appariton of the Virgin Mary observed by 3 peasant children in 1917 Fatima, Portugal and the disclosures made by her form the crux of the plot of the novel. The Virgin purportedly revealed 3 secrets, two of which were revealed by one of the children named Lucia. The third secret, however remained concealed within the walls of the Vatican only observed by papal eyes until its revelation in the year 2000.
Father Colin Michener, papal secretary to present pope Clement XV has served the former Cardinal of Cologne faithfully for years. They forged a father son relationship and Michener was concerned by the popes behavior. Pope Clement had been spending an inordinate amount of time in the Riserva, a Vatican library whose contents were reserved for papal use only. Clement was a progressive pope altering rather than sticking to the old doctrines of the Vatican.
Vatican Secretary of State Italian Cardinal Valendrea was at odds with Pope Clement. Having narrowly lost the papacy in the last conclave, Valendrea with lofty aspirations to become pope, favored a return to the princples of the past. Valendrea was a corrupt man using eavesdropping devices he had installed in the Vatican to keep members of the college of cardinals in line.
Pope Clement became aware that the third secret of Fatima stored in the Reserva seemed incomplete. He recruited Father Michener to discover the missing segment of the secret by travelling to Romania to speak with a Father Tibor, the original translator of the account of the peasant girl Lucia.Read more ›
But there are a couple of irritants.
First, the writing style. Why does so much of the novel have to be written in the pluperfect tense? We are constantly reading `he'd done this' or `she'd said that', and the effect is that most of the book seems to be a series of recollections. A few flashbacks are fine, but this is overdone. And breaking up the narrative so that we switch back and forward between characters, each time leaving one at a cliffhanger moment, is a standard technique, but again, it becomes tiresome when it is done so repetitively. You feel like you're watching a TV show that has too many commercial breaks.
Second, the endorsement of abortion in Mary's messages is done in a heavy-handed way that makes you wonder if it was a last minute addition. `Hey, I've got away with having the Mother of God endorse priestly marriage, female priests, and homosexuality (though I think Berry is a bit ambivalent about that one - see below), maybe I can throw abortion in as well'. The desirability of priests being free to marry was well set up in the plot, but abortion just comes out of left field at the last minute.Read more ›
Father Colin Michener is the papal secretary for Pope Clement XV. Clement is obsessed with the visitations of the Virgin Mary at La Salette, Lourdes, Fatima and Medjugorje. He is especially intent on discovering the third secret of Fatima. Clement sends Michener to Romania and Bosnia in his efforts to uncover the truth. But there is another powerful member of the Vatican Curia who has knowledge of the third secret. He is so fearful of it coming to light that he has resorted to wiretapping, blackmail and even murder.
Berry weaves this tale around Roman Catholic history. In addition to the visitations, he also uses the predictions of St. Malachy of the 16th Century, Irish birthing centers in the 20th Century, and the procedures for papal succession. While the historic aspects were interesting, the plot was a stretch. Without giving away the plot, Fatima's third secret (as revealed in this book) is just totally unbelievable and would change almost all the core beliefs of the Roman Church. Most of the characters are also a bit over the top. Michener, an ordained priest and lawyer, is way too gullible. His former girlfriend, Katerina Lew, is totally self-centered and not very likable. Cardinal Alberto Valendrea is too Machiavellian, and his assistant, Paolo Ambrosi acts more like a Nazi SS officer than a priest.
While The Third Secret was a fast-paced thriller that kept my interest, it is not of the same caliber as other books of this genre including The DaVinci Code.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Love Steve Berry books for intrigue, fast pace, terrific character depth and historical strength. I'm always in awe at the research foundation on which these stories rest.Published 6 days ago by M. Frances Scott
Berry is a master of combining history and fiction. Makes you think and do your job research as you readPublished 1 month ago by Amazon Customer
I truly was engrossed in this novel for about the first 80%; however, the last 20%, in my opinion, was poorly developed. Read morePublished 1 month ago by Dean
I enjoyed the book very much, even though it took me a while to get into it.
I will be looking for more books by Steve Berry
Good but not one of his best. My favorite (so far) is the Cotton Malone series.Published 2 months ago by E. Binkley