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The Death of a Pope: A Novel

The Death of a Pope: A Novel

4.2 11
by Piers Paul Read

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Juan Uriarte, a handsome and outspoken Spanish ex-priest, seems to be the model of nonviolence and compassion for the poor and downtrodden. So why is he on trial, accused of terrorist activities? His worldwide Catholic charitable outreach program is suspected of being a front for radicals. The trial is covered by Kate Ramsay, a young British reporter, who sets out to


Juan Uriarte, a handsome and outspoken Spanish ex-priest, seems to be the model of nonviolence and compassion for the poor and downtrodden. So why is he on trial, accused of terrorist activities? His worldwide Catholic charitable outreach program is suspected of being a front for radicals. The trial is covered by Kate Ramsay, a young British reporter, who sets out to undercover the truth about Uriarte and his work. She travels with him to Africa to see his work first hand but soon finds herself attracted to him. Meanwhile an international conspiracy is growing, one that reaches into the Vatican itself. When the death of Pope John Paul II brings the conclave that will elect Joseph Ratzinger as Pope Benedict XVI, a terrorist plot involving blackmail, subterfuge, and mass murder begins to fall into place... a plot that could spell disaster for the Catholic Church and the world. Piers Paul Read's powerful tale combines vivid characters, high drama, love, betrayal, faith, and redemption in a story of intrigue, of church espionage, and an attempt to destroy the longest continuous government in the world--the Papacy. The Death of a Pope races toward an unexpected and unforgettable conclusion.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly

Centered on the final days of Pope John Paul II, Read's uneven thriller will appeal mainly to those interested in Catholic theology. British journalist Kate Ramsey, who's covering the Old Bailey trial of three men accused by MI6 of plotting a sarin attack, is drawn to one of the defendants, Juan Uriarte, who testifies that he was seeking the poison gas to use as a deterrent against warlords in the Sudan, where he works for the Catholic Refugee Service. After the trial ends in acquittal, Ramsey gets herself assigned to cover Uriarte's relief work in Africa. Rather implausibly, Ramsey agrees to Uriarte's request that she transport on a plane flight a thermos that he claims contains a Nag Hammadi scroll. Meanwhile, British intelligence believes a megaterror event is in the works, and as John Paul II nears death, villains scheme to rig the succession. Read remains best known for Alive(1974), his nonfiction account of Andes air crash survivors who resort to cannibalism. (May)

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Product Details

Ignatius Press
Publication date:
Edition description:
New Edition
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Product dimensions:
6.10(w) x 9.10(h) x 1.10(d)

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Death of a Pope 4.3 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 11 reviews.
Corban-Storm More than 1 year ago
"The Death of a Pope" is a geopolitical (even geo-ecclesial) thriller that centers on a terrorist plot coordinated to take place during the papal conclave following the death of John Paul II. The two primary characters are Kate Ramsey, a worldly reporter and lapsed Catholic, and Juan Uriarte, a Spanish ex-priest working for a Catholic Charity in Africa and now facing charges of conspiracy to commit a terrorist act. Uriarte is able to convince the court that his intent to obtain Sarin gas was nothing more than a desperate/misguided attempt to provide a deterrent for the people of Darfur against Arab Militias, as the world powers have done nothing to end the atrocities there. The questions the reader must ponder throughout the book are, "Are the acts of Juan Uriarte justified in light of the horrific realities before him?" and then ultimately, "Is Uriarte an agent of good or evil?" The storyline/theme here is excellent, and I would say, needed in today's world. It boils down to the question "does the end justify the means?" Read does an excellent job portraying both positions ("yes it does" vs. "no it doesn't")-here played out within the theology and approach of the Catholic Christian Church-in a manner which draws the reader into sympathy for either "side." The so-called "Liberation Theology," which attempts to unite elements of Marxist ideology with the Catholic Church's historical preference/advocacy for the poor, was very luring to Catholic leaders in Central America in the 1980s. Its results were disastrous, even deteriorating to the point of priests taking up arms. I can share from first-hand experience in Honduras that this ideology is still alive and well in C.A. (sadly, even with leaders of the Church), and I believe Read's book accurately depicts this reality. While the impulse behind LT is understandable, as has been said, it provides neither liberation nor sound theology. The story/plot itself is very good, and the pace picked up dramatically about 1/3 of the way through the book. Read's understanding of the inner-workings of the institutional dimension of the Catholic Church-as well as its ideological battles-is exceptional. He definitely limits the marketability of the book by not bashing the Catholic Church or portraying Her as a perennial conspirator against mankind (a sure-fire method for getting a book on a best-seller list). Instead, he provides a thoughtful approach that neither denies the problem nor justifies the less-than-adequate response of some leaders within the Church. My only main critique of the book is that, after a masterful buildup, the final climax seems a bit "rushed." One other thought, and I am sure the author had his reasons, the choice to center this book on a conclave in the past, instead of near future, takes a small amount of suspense out of this thriller; we know the end result of this matter. I would definitely recommend this book to anyone who finds intrigue in geopolitical conspiracy as well as the ideological battles within Christendom. It far exceeds the biased and anti-intellectual approach of popular authors such as Dan Brown and Andrew Greeley.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
cascherman More than 1 year ago
As the headline reads this book was predictable all the way through. The end was not interesting or shocking as advertised. I am a big fan of Catholic fiction (Michael O'brien kind of stuff) and this was not nearly as entertaining. If you are looking for something to kill some time maybe it'll be more rewarding than watching television. But, there is one up side... The author TRIED to portray orthodoxy as a good thing with the end being a victory for conservatives in the election of Benedict XVI.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
CBH More than 1 year ago
I start this review by stating that I am not a Catholic but I am a man with very religious convictions and value all true religions that follow God and teach His beliefs. "The Death of a Pope" has taught me much about the Catholic Church, its inner workings, its services, its beliefs in practicing Catholicism, and much more. While this books characters are fictional for the most part, the story follows the path of history teaching many of the good along with some bad that occur in the church. Juan Uriarte is a Spanish ex-priest who has always been very compassionate for the common and downtrodden people. He finds himself and two others on trial in a British Court accused of terrorist activities shopping for Sarin nerve gas. He had no way of knowing how the British would judge an Irishman. The trial continues in interesting detail, quite different than in the United States. Four journalists covered the trial, two of which found themselves going to lunch together and becoming friendly, or so it seemed. Kate Ramsey and David Kotovski seemed to enjoy their lunches but Kate wrote more into their companionship than did David. Eventually a not-guilty verdict was announced for all three of the accused. Kate Ramsey's uncle, Father Luke Scott, is a priest who now enters the story being sixty years of age he had to choose what future course he wished for his life. He kept busy but had no idea what vocation he would follow. At the same time the current Pope was getting very old and feeble and sickly, causing much discussion among all the powers that be heading the Catholic Church. Many names were being tossed around in private meetings, none of which were privy to the outside world. Kate is writing the activities regarding the selection of a new Pope and meets Juan in the process. Kate accepts Juan's invitation to go along on the journey to the back areas of Africa to visit the sick and lame. Juan is well known from his past trips but Kate knows not what to expect. What has she gotten herself into? She finds it hard to believe that such inhumane conditions could exist but she sees it mile after mile. Kate is getting far too attached to Juan. Juan needs to do "his" thing but he would separate from Kate and go to other areas to meet others secretly, some acting quite strange. Meanwhile the Pope has died and the selection for a new Pope has started with all the politics involved that a national election might have. The jockeying for position gets quite bitter at times. Juan has entrusted Kate to take a scroll packaged in a heavy and safe container across national borders because he knew he might get stopped while there was little chance that Kate would be. The scroll ends up in the Vatican along with all the uproar of the choosing and Juan arrives to collect it from Kate. Is Juan a terrorist or is he working to help the free world? The last part of the book moves fast and it is not predictable. The author has a gem in this book regardless if you are Catholic or any other religion or have no religion. Some of the secrets of the inner workings are well told and seem very plausible. I highly recommend this book.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Far better than Angels and Demons or DaVinci..........
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Silvia More than 1 year ago
This is the first time I read a novel by this author. I couldn't put this book down. This novel is a great page turner and a quick read.Great characters and interesting plot. I would recommend this book.