This is the fourth Steve Berry book I have read, one of which, “The Amber Room (2003) I have reviewed here. I haven’t yet really got into his series books, but his stand-alones are very good examples of this genre. After the Russians of “The Romanov Prophecy”, the Nazis in “The Amber Room” the focus here is on Italy, more specifically the Vatican. What Berry does so well is set up a fascinating premise, this he has done with all three of his stand-alone novels, this one being no exception. The Vatican is aiming to control visions of Mary and especially, her words when she appeared to a group of children in 1917 in Fatima, Portugal. There’s a pretty seamless combination of fact and fiction, as the 1917 visions are well documented. But along the way Berry cranks up the thrills. There’s papal elections, murder and excommunication.
The main character, Michener, is an American Papal Secretary and close friend of the Pope. He is questioning his role in the Church, especially with regards to celibacy, so there’s a good bit of inner conflict alongside the public turmoil. All the characters have secrets but it is the revelation of the Third Secret that will change the world for good. Those in the know want the secret kept at any costs. Pace is a little hit and miss and unfortunately I did not warm to either of the main characters, Michener and ex-girlfriend Katerina Law.
Out of the four Steve Berry books this comes in at number 3 behind “The Romanov Prophecy” and “Amber Room”, but this writer I think has the skills to come up with a real out and out winner. It might be already out there but I just haven’t read it yet.
The Third Secret was published in 2005 by Hodder in the UK