Nearly a century after the miracle of Fatima, an unrevealed secret wreaks havoc in the hierarchy of the Roman Catholic Church.
Fatima, Portugal, 1917. The Virgin Mary, on her third miraculous visitation, imparts a trio of secrets to Lucia, the eldest of the trio of children whom “The Lady” has blessed with the ability to see her. Eighty-plus years later, Monsignor Colin Michener, secretary to Pope Clement XV, notices that the boss has lately been prowling the Vatican secret archive in the dead of night for more information about Fatima. Also noticing is the ambitious and, it’s progressively revealed, ruthless Cardinal Valendrea, who, appropriately, has a fawning sidekick in Father Paolo Ambrosi. Michener pieces together additional facts about Lucia. She eventually did disclose the first two of her three secrets but then, falling prematurely into ill health, committed the third to paper and directed that it remain sealed until 1960. At that time, it was translated for Pope John XXIII by young Father Andrej Tibor. Beyond this, the details of the third secret become murky. Sensing a big story is star freelance journalist Katerina Lew, whose affair with maverick priest Father Tom Healy has triggered a disciplinary tribunal at the Vatican (Valendrea takes unseemly pleasure in predicting Healy’s removal from the priesthood). Katerina is also the former lover of Michener, who chose the Church over her a long time ago. When Michener decides to visit Tibor, now retired and working with orphans in Romania, Valendrea sends a conflicted Katerina to hook up with him. Michener senses Tibor’s guardedness and is unable to learn anything of importance. The suicide of Pope Clement then sends the Vatican into turmoil and the story into overdrive as a contentious papal election and the prophesies of St. Malachy figure prominently in its resolution.
Berry (The Amber Room, 2003, etc.) sometimes overforeshadows his revelations, but he serves tantalizingly true tidbits about the Church, and his measured, elegant prose is a solid fit with the story.