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on April 22, 2017
Another engrossing and detailed story from the pen of Senor Perez-Reverte. A fascinating read and one which I highly recommend to readers who will surely become fans of this renowned writer (if they are not so already).

N. Williams
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on October 27, 2003
When an ingenious hacker infiltrates the Vatican's computer system and leaves a message on the Pope's desktop imploring the Vatican to save the soon-to-be demolished Our Lady of the Tears church in Seville, the Vatican deploys its version of a special operations expert in the formidable personage of Fr. Lorenzo Quart. Quart is handsome, rugged and epitomizes the business end of the Vatican while promoting a no-nonsense vision of the Church in Rome that exactly opposes the cozy sanctuary feel of Our Lady of the Tears. The congregation of the old and crumbling church believe that the building itself has an uncanny sense of survival; two murders or accidents have already taken place; the victims, people involved in the church's scheduled demolition. World-toughened Quart believes no such thing, he attributes the church's strange staying power to its motley crew of supporters: an old renegade pastor, his young computer-savy associate, a art-restoring nun from California, a willful yet beautiful aristocrat and her old-fashioned mother with a fetish for Coca Cola. The opposition is just as real--a jilted banker amd his hilarious stoogelike henchmen who envision a more self-serving and lucrative edifice on the Our Lady of Tears property.

The plot however is secondary in this most wonderful of character studies. As Quart discovers the different truths that center around the old church, he ekes out the meaning that the Church has not only for its individual protectors, but also for himself. Like any truely good piece of literature the main character undergoes some metamorphosis; Quart's is profound and well worth the read through the stirring backdrop of beautiful Seville.

Unlike some of the other reviewers, I find the "Seville Communion" incompariable when looked at in the same context as "The Flanders Panel" and "Club Dumas". While I liked these other novels, I was moved by the Seville Communion and I recommend it to anyone who enjoys their characters made of flesh and blood, not just stereotypical ideals.
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on July 3, 2003
People who have never read Arturo Perez Reverte will be deceived when told "Seville communion" is a plain "whodunnit" thriller. Reverte's books are muchh more than that. What he usually does is imagine an unusual situation (the plot), and unusual characters, and these characters will relate to each other with the unusual situation as background. This is how he works, and we can notice it in "The Dumas club", "The Flanders panel" and "The nautical chart".
"Seville communion" follows the same pattern. The unusual situation is that someone named Vespers has hacked into His Holiness The Pope's personal computer. There, vespers leaves a message about how a small but ancient church in Seville is killing people who want it destroyed. Yes, it's a bit strange, but Reverte knows how to manage the bizarre plots he conceives.
The main character is Father Lorenzo Quart, a member of a "black-ops" branch of the Catholic Church in Rome. More like a soldier than a priest, he travels to Seville to see what's really going on. In the Andaluzian city he will find many of those unusual characters, like an ambitious banker who wants the grounds the church lies on, his ex-wife, beautiful, powerful, with a little crush on men who wear black, her old, Coca-Cola addicted mother, four small-time crooks who can't do anything right, an old priest who will do anything to save his parish, and other interesting people.
Reverte's characters are developed almost to exhaustion (the author's exhaustion, not the reader's). His story flows very well. Reverte writes in a way that doesn't offend the reader with idiotic paragraphs and chapters, and sometimes he deliberately hides one thing or another from the reader, leaving him/her to think. All these elements together make you forget that "Seville communion" 's genre is supposedly a mistery thriller. It's way more than that.
Although Reverte's books may seem strange (pointless) at a first glance, you have to get used to them to fully appreciate his kind of literature. Don't give after only a few pages.
Grade 8.8/10
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on May 20, 2002
Generally speaking, readers are forced to choose between intelligent, character-driven, quality literature and dumbed-down, mindless, plot-driven fiction.
Arturo Perez-Reverte is one of the few writers who finds a happy medium between the two. Yes, his books center around an exciting plot, move at a healthy pace, and leave little time for the reader to think about character development or artistic merit. And yet, his books are more than just mind candy. They are smart, suspenseful thrillers that will leave you feeling at least satisfied if not wholesomely enriched. The Seville Communion is no exception.
Set in modern-day Seville, this is the story of Father Lorenzo Quart, sent by the investigative arm of the Vatican's foreign affairs ministry to investigate two mysterious deaths in an old, neglected church that local banking executives want abolished, so the land can be used for more lucrative development purposes. A feisty old priest and a local aristocratic woman lead the efforts to keep the church alive. And an anonymous computer hacker is breaking into the Pope's personal computer system to deposit messages warning the Holy See that this old church will do what it must to protect itself and ensure its survival. Perez-Reverte creates a cast of colorful characters - Quart, the ruggedly attractive priest whose vow of chastity never seems to be his top priority, Macarena, the elegant aristocrat who always seems to be seducing him, and many more. Set against the backdrop of Seville, a city filled with old world charm and beauty, this novel has the feel of a period piece even though it is set in modern day, complete with cell phones and computer hackers.
Though The Fencing Master, in my opinion, is his best work, The Seville Communion is an excellent read, an exciting whodunit for intelligent readers.
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on December 18, 2000
From Pérez-Reverte i've only read The Flanders Panel, but i've already got an idea of why he is such a popular author.
His strong point is the detail with which he describes his characters. It is easy to get to know them, they become flesh and bone, and as a consequence, the reader develops empathy with them, even with the evil ones. This novel has the advantage of having a main character that becomes lovable right off the start. Maybe lovable is not the right word, but Quart is tormented by his past and present circumstances, and these put his role in perspective. The main objection i have with the book is with the identity of the hacker. I know in this day and age everything is possible, but my willing suspension of disbelief has a limit...
One thing i cannot stand in a book is when the author gives you obvious clues as to what is going to happen next. I want a book that makes me work. I want to be surprised and i want to be right every so often. In the case of this book, i guessed certain things, and i was surprised by others.
I am partial to this book because it takes place in my favorite country and my favorite city. This book reads so much better in Spanish! The nuances of the language, the beautiful, sometimes archaic words that the author uses under the excuse of describing archaic things and people... This is one of the most enjoyable books i've read in the year 2000.
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on July 6, 2001
A hacker cracks Vatican security and sends an urgent plea directly to the Pope: Save Our Lady of the Tears. The crumbling Baroque church, located in the heart of Seville, is slated for demolition, and two of its defenders have recently died. Accidents - or murders? The Vatican promptly dispatches Father Lorenzo Quart, their worldly and enormously attractive emissary, to investigate the situation and track down the hacker, known to the Vatican only as Vespers. Father Quart's search for Vespers leads him to Father Priamo Ferro, the coarse and zealous parish priest, who has the full devotion of his small flock; Sister Gris Marsala, a former nun from California who is determined to restore the church; Pencho Gavira, the ambitious young vice-chairman of the Cartujano Bank; his estranged wife, Macarena, a perfect Andalusian beauty whose aristocratic family is closely linked to the church's history; Macarena's mother, the Duchess of El Nuevo Extremo, an elegant insomniac with a taste for Coca-Cola; and Honorato Bonafe, a tabloid reporter bent on getting the dirt on everyone. Father Quart is slowly seduced by the splendor of Seville - and the beauty of Macarena. As time runs out on the church, he is caught between powerful developers who have a stake in Our Lady of the Tears and his loyalty to the Vatican and his own vows.
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on October 22, 2001
The Seville Communion starts with a fascinating premise - Vespers, a computer hacker, has somehow gotten past the Vatican defenses and into the pope's private computer. The hacker leaves a message that leaves the Curia suspicious - that a church in Seville is killing to defend itself. The church heirarchy puts Father Quart, a member of the IEA, on the case, and lands him in Seville.
Father Quart, or, as he calls himself, the Knight Templar, finds Seville somehow different from the other places he has been sent to put out fires by the Vatican. Something in the history of the city, and the characters he meets, makes this a difficult place for the priest to maintain the discipline and objectivity which have made him so successful. Yet, in the face of a beautiful woman, an uncommunicative priest, and an unusual nun, he still attempts to do his duty.
While the plot was fascinating, and the characters well-drawn, I still didn't enjoy this title as much as others I have read by Perez-Reverte. Parts of the plot seemed choppy, and it was difficult to understand where the plot was going. Despite this, I still recommend the book. For nothing else, read it for its wonderfully evocative sense of Seville and this ancient Spanish city.
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on April 8, 2001
This book's strong point, if any, is humor, something I would not have guessed from its advertising. Because of its extravagant characters and dialog it is occasionally reminiscent of The Confederacy of Dunces. But it is also humorous in a way Perez-Reverte may not have intended -- because of its mistakes about the practice and language of a Catholicism he is trying to lampoon, the improbability of his action and dialog, and the number of times that the translator (also not sufficiently acquainted with the Catholic jargon) gets almost but not quite the right word. When someone thinks there are 3000 archbishops in the world (page 21) you can hardly believe him when he talks about the faith life of priests or the sexual fantasies of nuns. The characters are unreal, and so they and their deeds and consequently what there is of a plot are not believable. The cover touts it as a novel of suspense, a thriller, a whodunit, but it is in no way any of those; it is not until after page 300 that we even have a bona fide murder. I found the book boring, and when the surprise endings finally came, I was just glad the book was over.
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on February 13, 2002
The writing, even in translation is graceful. The central character is a priest, a strong "good soldier" who serves the Vatican as a combination hatchet man/private detective. The mystery is initially intriguing -- who is sending the Pope e-mails that are mysterious and of deadly import?
This is an enjoyable book to read... but the central character, the priest, is so strongly written that when he falls for the woman, and fails in his mission, this is mildly unbelievable. His crisis of faith and strength is a bit too precipitous. And the solution to the mystery is not adequately foreshadowed, which makes a decent solution appear arbitrary. But this is in general a very good read by an author who is erudite, writes well, and captures some of the enchantment of Seville. Makes me want to order tapas and watch the slow Guadalquivir!
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on October 22, 2002
Ostensibly, this is the story of a hacker breaking into the Vatican computer system and appealing to the Pope to save a small, neighbourhood church in Seville from being shut down. Father Lorenzo Quart is sent by the Vatican to Seville to uncover just who this hacker, who goes by the code name Vespers, really is.
But really, the mystery is incidental. For me, the book's raison d'etre wasn't really to discover who Vespers was, but to present the reader with vividly drawn characters and situations. The scenes that portrayed the slowly unfolding relationship between Quart and Maccarena, or the funny-sad trio of would-be criminals, or Don Priamo, the aged priest who would sacrifice all for his simple faith were what kept me reading.
I will definitely read more by Perez-Reverte.
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