Arch-conservatives plot to hijack the papacy in the last days of John Paul II, but they haven’t reckoned with super-tough Father Michael Flaherty.
Irish poet, television presenter and screenwriter Kenneally (Second Son, not reviewed) sets his two-fisted Irish ex-special-forces-warrior-turned-priest Mike Flaherty on the trail of an ecclesiastical cabal that has been wasting liberal priests and nuns at an alarming rate on both sides of the Atlantic. The bad guys’ secret weapon is Stefan, a Yugoslavian priest whose up-close-and-personal experience in the recent Balkan disaster turned him from shepherd to murderous machine. Plucked from a U.N. roundup of criminals by nameless Vatican powers, Stefan is spirited to Rome, where he finds his clerical niche organizing the maddest of the city’s loony religious conservatives into a strike force calling itself The Remnant. Remnant activists signal each other with scary Latin passwords, setting each other to such grim but, to their way of thinking, necessary tasks as the decapitation of an archbishop and shoving a cute, feisty nun in front of a subway train. The Remnant’s reach extends to the office of New York’s Cardinal Hall, where they’ve got a mole. The bad men of the cloth, horrified by the ascendance of a charismatic black American Cardinal, seem to be arranging the selection of a right-minded pope once the Polish incumbent has breathed his last. But JPII is not quite ready to go. He’s found a friend in a lip-reading Jewish surgeon, and super-soldier Father Flaherty is in town, soon to be joined by his adoptive New York cop father, Mal, and Rosa Torres, a Latina detective. The Remnant will meet its match.
Agreeable thrills and a few pleasant peeks into Italian domestic life.