Summary and book reviews of The Third Secret by Steve Berry

The Third Secret

By Steve Berry

The Third Secret
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  • Hardcover: May 2005,
    416 pages.
    Paperback: Jan 2006,
    400 pages.

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Book Summary

Explosive in both its pace and its revelations, The Third Secret is a remarkable international thriller. Bestselling author Steve Berry tackles some of the most controversial ideas of our time in a breakneck journey through the history of the Church and the future of religion.

Fatima, Portugal, 1917: The Virgin Mary appears to three peasant children, sharing with them three secrets, two of which are soon revealed to the world. The third secret is sealed away in the Vatican, read only by popes, and not disclosed until the year 2000. When revealed, its quizzical tone and anticlimactic nature leave many faithful wondering if the Church has truly unveiled all of the Virgin Mary's words–or if a message far more important has been left in the shadows.

Vatican City, present day: Papal secretary Father Colin Michener is concerned for the Pope. Night after restless night, Pope Clement XV enters the Vatican's Riserva, the special archive open only to popes, where the Church's most clandestine and controversial documents are stored. Though unsure of the details, Michener knows that the Pope's distress stems from the revelations of Fatima.

Equally concerned, but not out of any sense of compassion, is Alberto Cardinal Valendrea, the Vatican's Secretary of State,. Valendrea desperately covets the papacy, having narrowly lost out to Clement at the last conclave. Now the Pope's interest in Fatima threatens to uncover a shocking ancient truth that Valendrea has kept to himself for many years.

When Pope Clement sends Michener to the Romanian highlands, then to a Bosnian holy site, in search of a priest–possibly one of the last people on Earth who knows Mary's true message–a perilous set of events unfolds. Michener finds himself embroiled in murder, suspicion, suicide, deceit, and his forbidden passion for a beloved woman. In a desperate search for answers, he travels to Pope Clement's birthplace in Germany, where he learns that the third secret of Fatima may dictate the very fate of the Church–a fate now lying in Michener's own hands.

Vatican City
Wednesday, November 8th, The Present
6:15 a.m.



Monsignor Colin Michener heard the sound again and closed the book. Somebody was there. He knew it.

Like before.

He stood from the reading desk and stared around at the array of baroque shelves. The ancient bookcases towered above him and more stood at attention down narrow halls that spanned in both directions. The cavernous room carried an aura, a mystique bred in part by its label. L' Archivio Segreto Vaticano. The Secret Archives of the Vatican.

He'd always thought that name strange since little contained within the volumes was secret. Most were merely the meticulous record of two millennia of Church organization, the accounts from a time when popes were kings, warriors, politicians, and lovers. All told there were ...

Please be aware that this discussion guide may contain spoilers!
  1. How did your own religious beliefs influence the way you read The Third Secret? Can non-Catholics appreciate the novel?

     
  2. Fatima is one of many sites around the world where people believe the Virgin Mary has appeared and imparted a message to humanity. Why do you think there have been, and continue to be, reports of visitations by the Virgin? Is it a spiritual phenomenon or a psychological one?

     
  3. In the course of the novel, all the major characters wrestle with the question of faith. Some lose their faith; others find it anew. How would you define faith? How do Berry's characters manifest this quality? Is it always a good thing to have faith?

     
  4. What do you think about the message Mary ...
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Reviews

Media Reviews
Author Blurb Katherine Neville, author of The Eight
Controversial, shocking, explosive . . . rich in a wealth of Vatican insider knowledge and two thousand years of Virgin Mary visitations. The Third Secret will change our view of the relation between religion and wisdom.

Publishers Weekly

Visions of the Virgin Mary, secret documents and politicking in the highest echelons of the Catholic Church - Berry (The Amber Room) combines combustive elements in this well-researched thriller.

Booklits - Ilene Cooper

Berry handles his thriller tradecraft skillfully....Characterizations, however, are not quite as strong....But the story is its own reward. The contents of the explosive prophecy prove suitably shocking, if unlikely, and the surprising ending keeps the tension intense until the last pages. Readers won't be disappointed.

Kirkus Reviews

Berry . . . serves tantalizingly true tidbits about the Church, and his measured, elegant prose is a solid fit with the story.

The New York Times

The links to religion in The Da Vinci Code and [Dan Brown's] previous, Angels and Demons, pale beside those in The Third Secret. Here's a lurid, churning thriller that centers on the election of a new pope . . . featuring ruthless behind-the-scenes ambition in Vatican City, and apparitions of the Virgin Mary. . . . Berry raises this genre's stakes.

Florida Times-Union

Seamlessly weaves history and fiction. The meticulous research . . . drives Berry's writing a notch higher. He has crafted an intense, fast-paced thriller that suceeds because of clever plotting and introspective characters . . . a compelling read, a thinking man's thriller that proves as informative as entertaining.

Reader Reviews
Sharon Barker

Solid Entry Into The Historical Thriller Genre
While I have enjoyed all of Steve Berry's novels weaving history, mystery, and chases, this is my favorite. It may be reminiscent for some of Dan Brown's "Angels & Demons", but I think this is a better book. The plotting is superb and ...   Read More

Abigail

The Third Secret...???
Although Berry's first two books were good, this book lacks authenticity. It is obvious even before reading Berry's profile that he is a disgruntled & disillusioned Catholic. His liberal views put him in the same class as David Brown although I ...   Read More

Amazing Flash

Nice Review
It is a very slow moving book which starts to go faster as it goes on but overall I think it is not very good.

Marge

Entertaining
This book was one of those I coulodn't put down. I had no idea what it was about I just picked it up and read it. What a surprise at the character portray and storyline. I will look for more of Mr. Barry's books in the future.

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Beyond the Book

If you were uncomfortable with the plot line in The Da Vinci Code, you'll want to keep The Third Secret at more than arms length!

The premise of the book is that the 'Third Secret of Fatima' wasn't revealed in its entirety. In this Berry is reflecting the opinion that a number of people expressed at the time the final prophesy was revealed in 2000 - 40 years after the first two prophecies had been revealed and 19 years after the Vatican claimed it had been fulfilled (with the attempted assassination of Pope John Paul II). It's...

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