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The Fifth Gospel: Book summary and reviews of The Fifth Gospel by Ian Caldwell

The Fifth Gospel

by Ian Caldwell

The Fifth Gospel by Ian Caldwell X
The Fifth Gospel by Ian Caldwell
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  • Published Mar 2015
    448 pages
    Genre: Thrillers

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Book Summary

In Ian Caldwell's masterful follow-up to his international sensation The Rule of Four, a lost gospel, a contentious relic, and a dying pope's final wish converge to send two brothers - both Vatican priests - on an intellectual quest to untangle Christianity's greatest historical mystery.

Ten years ago, Ian Caldwell and Dustin Thomason's The Rule of Four became a literary phenomenon that earned comparisons to Umberto Eco's The Name of the Rose and Donna Tartt's The Secret History. Hailed as "ingenious...profoundly erudite" (The New York Times), "compulsively readable" (People), and "an exceptional piece of scholarship" (San Francisco Chronicle), it spent forty-nine weeks on the New York Times bestseller list, sold nearly two million copies in North America, and was translated into thirty-five languages around the world. Now, after a decade of painstaking primary research, Ian Caldwell returns with a new intellectual thriller that confirms his place among the most ambitious popular storytellers working today.

In 2004, as Pope John Paul II's reign enters its twilight, a mysterious exhibit is under construction at the Vatican Museums. A week before it is scheduled to open, its curator is murdered at a clandestine meeting on the outskirts of Rome. The same night, a violent break-in rocks the home of the curator's research partner, Father Alex Andreou, a Greek Catholic priest who lives inside the Vatican with his five-year-old son. When the papal police fail to identify a suspect in either crime, Father Alex, desperate to keep his family safe, undertakes his own investigation. To find the killer he must reconstruct the dead curator's secret: what the four Christian gospels - and a little-known, true-to-life fifth gospel known as the Diatessaron - reveal about the Church's most controversial holy relic. But just as he begins to understand the truth about his friend's death and its consequences for the future of the world's two largest Christian Churches, Father Alex finds himself hunted down by someone with vested stakes in the exhibit - someone he must outwit to survive.

At once a riveting literary thriller, a feast of biblical history and scholarship, and a moving family drama, The Fifth Gospel is a novel about the depths of sacrifice and the power of forgiveness. Rich, authentic, erudite, and emotionally searing, it satisfies on every level.

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Reviews

Media Reviews

"Starred Review. Captivating... This thriller is, at its heart, a story of sacrifice, forgiveness, and redemption. Peppered with references to real-life people, places, and events, the narrative rings true, taking the reader on an emotional journey nearly two thousand years in the making." - Library Journal

"Starred Review. Here motives are nuanced shadows that are as hard to grasp for Alex as they are for readers. It is this very elusiveness, juxtaposed against a strong sense of place, that intrigues, making this the best kind of page-turner, one about which you also have to think." - Booklist

"Starred Review. A brilliant work ... Extraordinarily erudite ... Caldwell makes intriguing literature from complex theology." - Kirkus

"Ingenious ... The real treat here is the process of discovery." - The New York Times

"One part The Da Vinci Code, one part The Name of the Rose and one part A Separate Peace ... A smart, swift, multitextured tale that both entertains and informs ... As much a blazingly good yarn as it is an exceptional piece of scholarship." - San Francisco Chronicle

"Masterfully plotted and extraordinarily researched, and written in a voice that never rings false, The Fifth Gospel is that rare story: erudite and a page-turner, literary but compulsively readable." - David Baldacci

"You are going to hear a lot about how this book took ten years to write and how it's minutely researched and erudite. Forget all that. This thing reads like a rocket. Jump on and hold tight." - Mary Doria Russell, author of The Sparrow

"An amazing achievement: The Fifth Gospel is a gripping thriller rich with human drama and forbidden knowledge." - Lev Grossman, author of the Magicians trilogy

This information about The Fifth Gospel was first featured in "The BookBrowse Review" - BookBrowse's membership magazine, and in our weekly "Publishing This Week" newsletter. Publication information is for the USA, and (unless stated otherwise) represents the first print edition. The reviews are necessarily limited to those that were available to us ahead of publication. If you are the publisher or author and feel that they do not properly reflect the range of media opinion now available, send us a message with the mainstream reviews that you would like to see added.

Any "Author Information" displayed below reflects the author's biography at the time this particular book was published.

Reader Reviews

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Beckyh

THE FIFTH GOSPEL by Ian Caldwell
What a great book! The writer gives you a feast for the intellect while presenting a spell binding murder mystery. It might help if you have a bit of Biblical or Christian knowledge, but if you don’t, it will be liberally supplied without preaching. The schism between the Eastern (Orthodox) Church and the Roman Church is a major part of the plot. The schism plays out in the family that is the center of THE FIFTH GOSPEL. One brother is a Roman Priest, the other an Eastern Christian priest. The victim is a lay person who is investigating the provenance of the Shroud of Turin with the help of both brothers.
The writing is clear and fluid. The characters are well rounded and interesting personalities. The plot is slowly revealed through the machinations and hierarchy of the Country that is Vatican City. You will be drawn into the plot, the family, the Vatican and the Church as the tale unfolds.
Book groups will discover many avenues to discuss – family, faith, church, power, crime, punishment, divorce, suicide, among them.
5 of 5 stars

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Author Information

Ian Caldwell Author Biography

Photo: simonandschuster.com

Ian Caldwell attended Princeton University, where he studied history. He graduated Phi Beta Kappa in 1998. He began writing The Rule of Four with his best friend, Dustin Thomason, after graduation. His second book, The Fifth Gospel, was published in 2015.

He lives in Newport News, Virginia.

Author Interview
Link to Ian Caldwell's Website

Other books by Ian Caldwell at BookBrowse
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