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The Cradle Will Fall
James Patterson, bestselling author of Pop Goes the Weasel, Along Came A Spider, and Kiss the Girls, returns with Cradle and All, a re-edited version of an older book, Virgin. Somewhere between the gritty psychological works of John Sandford and Thomas Harris, Patterson has firmly wedged himself among the world's bestselling thriller writers and has mined an area of suspense that is all his own. In Cradle and All, Patterson leaves the world of serial killers behind once more and enters into the realm of dark fantasy and outright horror, bringing his own masterful touch to an allegorical story pitting good against the darkest evil.
In 1917, at the French shrine of Lourdes, three children witness a vision of the Virgin Mary and are given a divine message. Two girls are destined to become pregnant though immaculate conception, one bearing the Messiah and the other giving birth to the Antichrist. Former nun and ex-cop-turned-Boston P.I. Anne Fitzgerald is hired by the Archdiocese to investigate the apparent virgin pregnancies of two teenage girls. Kathleen Beavier is a rich, spoiled Boston brat who hears voices and feels herself constantly being watched. After attempting to get an abortion at a seedy clinic, Kathleen discovers the mutilated corpse of her doctor -- but was he killed by malignant forces or by so-called good ones to keep from harming the Messiah? Her counterpart is 14-year-old Colleen Deirdre Galagher, a chaste and charming girl who attends a Catholic boarding school in rural Ireland and who must suffer the sneers of her fellow students as well as those of her pious teachers.
As the pope lies dying from a mysterious virus, Father Nicholas Rosetti, an "expert on miracles," suffers from a mysterious attack in Rome before being sent by the Vatican to keep an eye on Colleen. Fitzgerald's own murky past comes to light when she is reunited with Father Justin O'Carroll, the priest she fell in love with and eventually left the order over. Soon the fulfillment of various biblical apocalyptic prophecies begins to take place, including famine, floods, and plagues that sweep across the planet. As occult forces gather to stop them, Fitzgerald and Fathers O'Carroll and Rosetti race to discover which child is the savior and which one may very well doom all of humanity.
The Catholic flavoring of Cradle and All adds another level of intrigue to the novel, giving us a behind-the-scenes glimpse of the Vatican's active attempt to save the world. Patterson knows how to stretch out his suspense factor with incredibly short chapters and increasingly taut plot elements. The author's writing is clear and controlled, distinct without being so stylish that his voice impedes or hampers the narrative. His attention to the smallest details of characterization add credibility both to our protagonists and to our villains despite the supernatural events swirling around them throughout the novel.
The plot flies by with such speed that you'll suffer from friction burns from turning the pages so quickly. Once again, Patterson proves that he's more than capable of turning in a highly readable, cunningly crafted novel that transcends both the mystery and horror genres. Cradle and All is an intense, action-packed, and thought-provoking meditation on the clash between light and dark that will leave the reader moved, disturbed, and delightfully thrilled.