My rating: 4 of 5 stars
After a long time, I'm reading a book on something other than the usual run of the mill stuff like terrorism, jihad and global destruction.
Steve Berry's The Third Secret is a political intrigue set in a place where politics, greed, ambition and narcissism runs rampant - all in the name of service to GOD - The Vatican.
The last known monarchy with allegiance worldwide in the form of a billion followers. The Pope or the Holy See governs the smallest kingdom in the world with the biggest spiritual influence. His policies and dogma bridge the Heaven and the Earth and that it itself is a powerful lure almost a clarion call for the underlying web of politics, greed and pure unbridled ambition.
The plot is set around the revelations made by the Madonna in Fatima. Specifically around the Third Vision - the secret of which has haunted Popes for decades and has been the subject of a lot of controversies.
The human hubris and our assumption that we know and understand what GOD wants for his people better than even GOD is a central theme for the book. Berry deals with controversial topics like Women empowerment, women priests in the clergy and the freedom to choose when to bring life on earth - the touchy topic of abortion which brings out vociferous sentiments in the people.
Tying all these together is Father Colin Michener, the Pope's personal secretary who is entrusted with finding and deciphering The Third Secret and bringing it to the notice. The stumbling roadblock for this happens to be Cardinal Valenendra the powerful Secretary of State with ambition, cunning and ruthlessness enough to scheme for becoming the next Pope.
Father Michener deals with his own demons in the form of his love for Katherine Lew and his choice made years ago to serve the Lord. The pace of the book is good, Berry lays out good that the Church can do given enough resolve and faith.
Overall I would give the book 3.5 stars. The intrigue and the web that Berry weaves is good to keep the reader engaged in the story. The imposition of divine and the visions of the Madonna are explained well and the reader is left to form his own view as to weather or not to trust the visions. The secret can be guessed early if one reads into the characterizations of the leads well enough, it is not as explosive as one expects. A nice read IMO for a laid back day.
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