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Books Editorial

conclave.jpg Conclave

Robert Harris, Hutchinson

In the very near future, the (fictional) pope has just died and Lomeli, the Dean of the Cardinals, is tasked with organising the which will see one hundred and eighteen of his brethren from around the world gather in Rome to let God guide them in their quest to choose the new pope. So begins Robert Harris’ latest thriller in which behind the scenes machinations reach the kind of heights you feel Lomeli’s fellow-countryman, Machiavelli, would only approve. Will the cardinals plump for Tredesco, the Patriarch of Venice and arch-conservative, or the luxuriantly coiffured and media savvy Tedesco? How about Bellini, the great intellectual hope of the liberals, or Adeyemi, passionate and traditional, who would be the first African pope? They’re all secluded in the Sistine Chapel, their onerous task stretching over days, while thousands wait outside anxious for their new pontiff. Harris displays a sure-footedness here, and never resorts to mocking the church, in this page turner that brims with skull-cap-duggerry, and ends just like the Cardinals’ favourite book: with revelations.