Robert Harris’s new book is an electric read, like a shot of adrenalin to the heart. Not what one would expect of a plot in which 118 cardinals are locked in a building to pray and vote. They’re electing a new pope, the proceedings chaired and seen through the eyes of the likeable Cardinal Lomeli. The top candidates are sharply drawn and the winner is a hoot. God strike me down if I give away the ending.
I was on edge before I’d even started reading. Would Harris do the Church a disservice? The author is not a Catholic or even a Christian, and popular thrillers written by sceptics have damaged the Vatican’s reputation before. Dan Brown’s embarrassingly readable The Da Vinci Code convinced many