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Review: Robert Harris's Conclave is one of the best crime novels of 2016 Add to ...

  • Title Conclave
  • Author Robert Harris
  • Genre crime
  • Publisher Random House Canada
  • Pages 304
  • Price $24.95

There’s no other way to put it: Conclave is one of the best crime novels of 2016. In fact, it may be one of the best novels of 2016. There are thrills, devious plots, brilliant characters, a perfect setting and Harris’s usual skillfully rendered historical research. If you liked the Cicero trilogy, or were transfixed by The Ghost or An Officer and a Spy, you do not want to miss one line of this novel. The time is the near future. The pope in Rome is dead. The cardinals of the Catholic Church are summoned to the conclave to select a successor. This is the simplest and, yet, most complex meeting in the world. The conclave begins with a power struggle; Cardinal Lomeli is in charge. Facing him are three great and powerful figures: an Italian traditionalist, an ambitious Canadian and a reactionary African. All are candidates, all believe they are the chosen one. Then in comes an unknown, Cardinal Benitez, chosen by the deceased pope, who wanted the cardinal’s identity kept secret. To what end? At this point, the real power struggles begin. I read this book in one long day, taking time only to eat a sandwich. It is the best Robert Harris novel to date.

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