Book review: Dominus by Tom Fox
When a young man walks silently into a packed St Peter’s Basilica at the Vatican in Rome and appears to heal the wheelchair-bound Pope, the world hold its breath.
Has this jeans-wearing, softly spoken stranger just performed a very public miracle, or is it a conspiracy that is more devilish than divine?
Welcome to Tom Fox’s gripping debut which has all the pulsating pace and panache of a Dan Brown novel but with the added credibility of coming from the pen of an academic authority on the history of the Christian Church.
Fox has used his knowledge and years of research to explore the mysterious dimensions and spiritual corners of Christian belief and create an impressively authentic and exciting story.
Dominus, a twisting, turning thriller with an intriguing mystery at its heart, pits good against evil, faith against cynicism, truth against lies… and is guaranteed to keep the pages turning from the knockout opening sequence to a shocking and nail-biting conclusion.
Pope Gregory XVII has been confined to a wheelchair since a childhood spinal condition left his body twisted and his legs unable to stand, but he is adored by the faithful and St Peter’s is packed as he presides over High Mass one Sunday morning.
So when a stranger heads fearlessly towards him at the altar, his loyal Swiss Guards should be on danger alert. However, they inexplicably fall to their knees and allow the man straight through to the Pope. And when the stranger commands the Pope to stand, he does so for the first time in his life.
The ‘miracle’ sends the media into a frenzy and when more seemingly amazing events follow, the Vatican retreats and closes its doors to the world but nor before cameras have captured pictures of the Pope kissing the stranger’s hand.
However, journalist Alexander Trecchio is not convinced by the stranger’s miraculous powers. After a brief spell as a priest, he grew disillusioned, dumped his dog collar and became religious affairs correspondent for a newspaper noted as a harsh critic of the Catholic Church.
In his search for the truth, Alexander teams up with police inspector Gabriella Fierro, a pious Catholic whose faith is a source of comfort and who is equally determined to find out if the mysterious stranger is a Messiah or a fraud.
But their lives are increasingly at risk as dark and ruthless forces in Rome’s highest places are prepared to stop at nothing to halt the pair’s investigations…
There is hardly a pause for breath in this thrill-a-minute, action-packed odyssey which takes us deep into the inner core of the Vatican’s powerful curia and headlong into a dangerous quest to uncover the truth of events which have brought a nation to the point of hysteria.
Alexander and Gabriella make a fascinating detective duo, two opposites with different world views but prepared to risk all in a mission that holds no certainties and plenty of surprises.
A cracking start to what promises to be an addictive new series…
(Headline, paperback, £7.99)