Interesting marketing concept this. Although this is Tom Fox’s debut published novel two “digital shorts” – a prequel and sequel are also available as e-books. Fox has a background of academic research on the Church and puts it to good use here.
During a Sunday morning mass officiated by the Pope at St Peter’s Basilica a stranger enters the building and approaches the Pontiff. After some words the Pope, who has been crippled since birth. stands up straight for the first time in his life. The Vatican City goes into lock-down after this and the world is rocked by news of other “miracles”.
Central character Alexander Trecchio is a poorly regarded religious correspondent for La Repubblica and an ex-Priest. Sent to research the story he encounters men who have obviously been silenced. He enlists the help of old flame Police Inspector Gabriella Fierro to find out if the world is in the grip of some kind of a second coming or an elaborate conspiracy.
Much of this would seem familiar to fans of the adventure novel genre for whom conspiracy within the Catholic Church is a staple. Fox offers a new twist with a stronger reliance on the concept of faith and the nature of miracles and if the reader is able to buy into this a little it is an entertaining read. The book has pace and reads well but for me lacks the plausibility factor of some of the best in its genre. Not too long ago I read Michael Benoit’s “The Thirteenth Apostle” written also by someone with a background in theological studies and I felt he managed to use this to get a stronger feeling of authenticity and avoided with his struggle between good and evil the trap of having the evil seem cartoonish. I’m not convinced Fox avoided this struggle.
It also recalled a reading of Thomas Gifford’s 2004 novel “The Assassini”, another tale of church corruption within a Vatican City setting which was memorable only because of the length of time it took me to plod through it, but “Dominus” is considerably more successful – so all in all I’m wavering somewhat in the middle. It’s an enjoyable book for adventure fans and a welcome new read in a genre which became saturated after the success of Dan Brown and has now calmed down to seeing only those that are stronger or offering something slightly different being published. I don’t think this will kick-start a publishing fervour along the lines of “The Da Vinci Code” (Dan Brown still referenced on the cover of “Dominus). I would be interested to see what the digital only “Genesis” and “Exodus” add to the mix, however.
Dominus was published by Headline in 2015. Many thanks to the publishers and Bookbridgr for the review copy.