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God's Spy [Hardcover]

Juan Gomez Jurado
3.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)

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Book Description

April 10 2007
An instant bestseller in Spain, with rights sold in twenty-eight countries and counting, God’s Spy is a spectacular contemporary thriller set in the Vatican, where, in the aftermath of Pope John Paul II’s death, the hunt for a serial killer reveals a chilling conspiracy.

In the days following the Pope’s death, a cardinal is found brutally murdered in a chapel in Rome, his eyes gouged and his hands cut off. Called in for the grisly case, police inspector Paola Dicanti learns that another cardinal was recently found dead; he had also been tortured. Desperate to find the killer before another victim dies, Paola’s investigation is soon joined by Father Anthony Fowler—an American priestand former Army intelligence officer examining sexual abuse in the Church, who knows far more about the killer than Paola could possibly imagine.

As Paola and Father Anthony struggle through a maze of tantalizing clues, they begin to question whether someone in the Vatican is aiding their cause or abetting a murderer. And when evidence leads them to powerful figures within the Church hierarchy, their own pursuit of the truth may make them the next pawns to be sacrificed in a terrifying and deadly game.

A dazzling, impossible-to-put-down thriller, Juan Gómez-Jurado’s God’s Spy marks the arrival of a major new talent to the contemporary suspense fiction scene.


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From Publishers Weekly

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.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From Booklist

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
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved

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Most helpful customer reviews
3.0 out of 5 stars Dark Secrets May 31 2008
By Toni Osborne TOP 100 REVIEWER
Format:Hardcover
The story is set in Vatican City during the conclave in the aftermath of Pope Paul 11's death in 2005. A cardinal planning to participate in the conclave is found brutally murdered in a chapel in Rome, his eyes gouged and his hands cut off. When police inspector Paola Dicanti is summoned to investigate and learns that another cardinal was recently found dead also mutilated and tortured beyond recognition. Eager to find the killer before other victims die, the Vatican teams Father Anthony Fowler with Paola. Father Fowler is an American priest with an Army intelligence background examining sexual abuse in the Church. He previously worked in a facility for deviant priests and suspects missing former patient Father Victor Karosky....The hunt is on to find the serial killer before he strikes again....

A major subplot in this novel touches the abuse scandal of the Catholic Church and their policy of simply reassigning priest to other parishes. It also explores the conflict within the church regarding sexual abuse, its treatment and their penalties. Some of the details described mirrored the events reported in the news over the past few years. Some readers may be annoyed with the depiction of the Catholic Church and also the language used.

As for the characters, they are numerous and easy to follow, everyone has their own deep dark secrets and we are given bits and pieces through flashbacks. Paola the main character is portrayed as a smart and heroic woman. It would be nice to see her reappear in subsequent novels with Father Fowler. In whole, the story is fast-paced with a few twists and turns, a lot of graphic description of the murders and enough suspense to make it a good first novel.
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Amazon.com: 4.0 out of 5 stars  38 reviews
30 of 35 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Gripping, start to finish April 5 2007
By Leontes - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
"God's Spy" tells the story of a serial killer dispatching Cardinals with bloody glee: as such - as it investigates Catholic arcana, features many chases, and an incipient love story between an American and a European - it will, of course, be blithely compared to the Earth-Shatteringly Popular Novel We Will Not Name. But Juan Gomez-Jurado's work deserves much closer scrutiny, and it deserves, more importantly, to be read. Paola Discanti, his heroine, is both compelling and sympathetic, and Father Fowler is a winning foil. Gomez-Jurado writes with an insider's knowledge of Rome and the Vatican, and more importantly for a crime novelist, an insider's knowledge of a damaged human mind. Definitely a writer to watch.
15 of 18 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars 3.5 stars. Take it for what it is. July 9 2008
By Derek - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
No spoilers.

Please take God's Spy for what it is and nothing more. If you are looking for a guilty pleasure read (as many books in this post-da Vinci genre are often termed,) then this novel is what you are looking for. While God's Spy doesn't have any of the unexpected twists or "out-of-nowhere" shockers that are found in Dan Brown and James Rollins-esque books of the same nature (religious and political conspiracy,) if you are looking for an extremely quick read that you don't need to focus too much on and is subject to being interruped without losing one's place in the story, then this novel is fine.

The bottom line is that you should read this book if you devour books and don't spend more than several days reading one. However, if you're looking for an engrossing read or one with unseen complications and baffling mysteries that need solving, you will not be satisfied here.
14 of 17 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A bold, ambitious, and thrillingly successful debut April 7 2007
By Daniel Jolley - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
It takes literary guts for a first-time novelist to set his tale of bloody murder against the backdrop of the death of as beloved a pope as John Paul II, but that is exactly what young Juan Gomez-Jurado has done. You certainly can't argue with the book's success, either, as it has already attained bestseller status in Europe and Latin America. I believe something has been lost in James Graham's English translation of the original Spanish novel, but God's Spy is still a riveting, unorthodox thriller that holds nothing back in its account of a maniacal priest targeting prominent cardinals for obscene torture and murder - and one Italian investigator's torturous, continually restricted mission to stop him.

Murder just doesn't happen in Vatican City, yet Detective Paola Dicanti can't deny the obvious as she gazes down on what is left of a body found murdered upon the altar of the Church of Santa Maria. I won't go into details, but I will tell you they are grisly, enough to make Jack the Ripper glance away. Things only get worse when she discovers the dead man is a prominent cardinal, one of the men who would soon be choosing a new pope to replace the just-deceased John Paul II. In one way, it's just the kind of case Paola has been longing for, one that finally gives her a chance to put her FBI profiling training to use. In every other way, though, it's a nightmare. While nominally in charge, she is compelled to work with Vatican authorities whose determination to keep everything secret makes them a hindrance as much of a help. As the best example of this, Paola is furious to discover that another murder preceded this one - with all evidence, including the body of the dead cardinal, destroyed by the Vatican. On top of all this, the investigative team grows a third head with the arrival of an American priest and former Army intelligence officer. Father Fowler does come with critical information, at least - namely, the identity of the killer. Already, you can see how God's Spy differs from your conventional murder mystery thriller. Paola doesn't have the resources or stature to go Dirty Harry on anybody, the murderer's identity is established early on, and the investigative process consists of a great deal of internal bickering between parties with their own separate interests.

With the killer targeting important cardinals of the impending papal conclave, he must be stopped at all costs - but without the knowledge of the cardinals or, heaven forbid, the tens of thousands of mourners descending upon the city to pay their respects to John Paul II. Those kinds of conditions put Paola in an extremely difficult position. As for the killer, he is one wily devil, that's for sure, as he manages to kill and kill again before slipping away into thin air. On numerous occasions, though, the working relationships of the investigators take on even more interest than the investigation itself, especially when it comes to the uncomfortable working dynamics between the Vatican ecclesiastical authorities, the Vatican police, the Italian police, and whoever Father Fowler actually works for. The murderer isn't the only character keeping secrets over the course of this grisly saga.

God's Spy remains at all times an intriguing, surprisingly in-your-face mystery thriller, featuring a steady dose of adrenaline-packed action and a surprising amount of gore courtesy of the sadistic killer. Knowing the identity of the killer takes nothing away from the mystery, as unanswered questions dot the landscape of the investigation and Gomez-Jurado delivers a number of fairly significant surprises in the book's final pages. As I mentioned earlier, though, I do feel something was lost in the translation from Spanish to English. Some of the sentences read rather awkwardly, and I can't help but wonder if some of the language used by certain characters is accurate or just a product of the translation. If you are fluent in Spanish, I would definitely recommend you pick up a copy of the book in its original form. I also had some trouble telling some of the minor characters apart, largely because their Italian names made it difficult for me to tie names and characters together. Clearly, that little problem is entirely on me, but I would be remiss not to mention it.

Certainly, however, I would recommend this novel to all mystery lovers. In terms of authorial audacity alone, it's worth a look, but the amazing thing is that the author totally delivers the goods. God's Spy is an extremely impressive debut from an author poised to completely skip the ranks of the up-and-coming to claim a seat among the well-established writers of the genre.
8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A thriller based on nefarious doings in the Catholic Church, many twists and turns in the plot April 19 2007
By Charles Ashbacher - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
This book is a thriller, in many ways reminding me of the books by Dan Brown. The premise is that the Catholic Church is a much more complex and brutal entity than the world believes. It still maintains a small private army, the purpose of which is to advance church interests by any means up to and including assassination.

The setting is the death of Pope John Paul II and the upcoming election of the new pope. Two of the most liberal members of the College of Cardinals are brutally murdered. Their eyes are gouged out and messages carved into their skin. This leads to investigations by the Vatican police, whose leader is an absolutely ruthless man. He has no compunctions about beating up a female reporter and probably would have killed her had another police officer not intervened. Other police agencies are involved, a female officer (Paola) and a Catholic priest (Anthony) with a background in the CIA eventually become an unlikely team. Very quickly, they become convinced that it is the work of a serial killer named Victor Karosky, a former Catholic priest. Karosky was sexually and psychologically abused by his parents as a child and as a priest, was abusing the young parishioners. He was sent to a secret "correction camp" run by the church whose purpose is to deal with priests who stray to pedophilia. While he was there, no attempt was made to rehabilitate Karosky, he was further brutalized so that he would turn into a ruthless killer.

However, after several more deaths where Karosky seems to be able to move within the Cardinal enclave at will, Paola determines that Karosky is in fact a hired assassin. His employer is revealed at the end, and the motive is nothing more than the all-to-human desire for power and prestige.

The story is action-packed, subject to several twists and sudden changes of direction, although the climactic ending is so quick that it appears weak. I loved the book, as a reader of fiction for excitement, the extremely negative caricature of the Catholic Church did not disturb me. However, like Brown's "The Da Vinci Code" there are people who will hate it for that reason.
9 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Move Over Hannibal April 27 2007
By L. Shirley - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
This review refers to "God's Spy" by Juan Gomez-Jurado(English translation edition)

I stayed up late last night to finish reading this book. I couldn't wait to see what would happen on every page of this surprising and shocking thriller. And with each chapter I found twists and turns, unpredictable turns of events, characters to get emotionally involved with, and learned a bit of historical lessons in the bargain. The more deeply I got into the story, the more I had to read.

Author Juan Gomez-Jurado combines a brilliant imagination in a historical setting to weave for us a tale that sets it apart from the rest. I am excited to review this book and hope to point lovers of a good, highly suspense filled thriller in the direction of this fine novel.

The setting is Vatican City. John Paul II has died and hundreds of thousands have taken to the streets to mourn his death and await word of the next Pope. Amidst the masses, there's a dangerous killer on the loose. And this killer is more dangerous and psychotic then Norman Bates, Hannibal Lector and Jaws combined. His victims never see it coming. They are tortured of acts so despicable and horrible, that even the most seasoned cops find the results hard to take. Gomez-Jurado lets us know early on who this very disturbed killer is, but don't worry, there is still plenty to keep you enthralled, shock you with new revelations and keep you turning those pages, as Inspector Paola Dicante works in dangerous situations to uncover the truth .

Gomez-Jurado keeps it a tight, mysterious and dark thriller with a psychologically chilling backdrop. Every character has their own personal stories that keep us involved with them as well. The good and the evil both. Some carry deep dark secrets,that we are given bits and pieces of through flashbacks until it all comes together exquisitely.Until then there are times we really don't know who to trust.

I loved Paola. I was thrilled to be reading about a smart heroic woman as the main character instead of the side-kick and hope that this book will be the start to a great series with more of 'Ispettore' Dicante to read in the future.

As far as the translation. I thought it was wonderful and didn't feel I lost anything of the story. There may have been a phrase or two that might have translated a little differently in American-English, but I felt this only added to the flavor of the book. I could practically hear the various accents being spoken.

Bravo to Juan Gomez-Jurado for a brilliant first novel. And I must also add high marks for the research it must have taken in so many complex areas to give us such an authentic read, even including a nice map of Vatican City to follow the story.

The book deals with some very sensitive subject matter, in several respects, so it's definitely not for the squeamish. But if you are looking for a good thriller that fits into the historical novel genre, look no further. I can highly recommend this one.

Enjoy the read...Laurie

also recommended:Winter Prey
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