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A routine plot doesn't do justice to the intriguing premise of this debut thriller, a bestseller in Spain, about a serial killer stalking the cardinals poised to vote on Pope John Paul II's successor. Young, attractive Paola Dicanti, an inspector in an Italian violent crime unit and an FBI-trained profiler, is summoned to a church in Vatican City where a cardinal's mutilated corpse has been discovered. To her outrage, Dicanti learns that the victim is the second in a series, and that the identity of the killer—a pedophilic priest with a history of violence, Victor Karosky—is known to a new and mysterious ally, Anthony Fowler, a former priest and American intelligence operative. The cat-and-mouse game between the police and Karosky is nothing new, while Gómez-Jurado's use of the sex scandals that have rocked the Roman Catholic church is sensational rather than sensitive. American readers may be amused that Bush administration figure John Negroponte plays the part of shadowy backstage conspirator. (Apr.)
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Italian police inspector and profiler Paola Dicanti is not one to shrink from a challenge. But she's never been up against the likes of Victor Karosky. The American priest is on a mission to murder and mutilate cardinals who have arrived in Vatican City to elect a new pope in the wake of John Paul II's death. Though Karosky's identity is revealed early on, it doesn't lessen the suspense of Spanish writer Gomez-Jurado's riveting debut. He deftly weaves together the perspectives of perpetrator and pursuers alike: cold-blooded Karosky, a sexually abused child who has become a deeply dysfunctional adult; temperamental Inspector Dicanti, forever butting heads with the territorial and often pompous Vatican City police; and enigmatic priest and former U.S. Air Force intelligence officer Anthony Fowler, whose knowledge of Karosky proves pivotal to the case. The action unfolds against the backdrop of Vatican City, where countless pilgrims have gathered, wholly unaware of the heinous crimes taking place. Some rough spots in the translation distract from this otherwise first-rate thriller. Thomas Harris meets Dan Brown. Allison Block
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