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Her name is Our Lady of the Tears. She's a small, crumbling Baroque church in the heart of Seville, Spain. And at least one person -- a computer hacker nicknamed Vespers -- believes that she kills to defend herself. In Arturo Perez-Reverte's stylish and entertaining The Seville Communion, Rome sends handsome Father Lorenzo Quart to investigate. He meets a feisty parish pri Her name is Our Lady of the Tears. She's a small, crumbling Baroque church in the heart of Seville, Spain. And at least one person -- a computer hacker nicknamed Vespers -- believes that she kills to defend herself. In Arturo Perez-Reverte's stylish and entertaining The Seville Communion, Rome sends handsome Father Lorenzo Quart to investigate. He meets a feisty parish priest, a beautiful aristocrat, an ambitious banker, and three of the most touching, wonderfully ineffectual crooks to ever dabble in a life of crime. There are mysteries as well, from another death at the church to the secrets of the human heart. -- Nancy Pate


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Her name is Our Lady of the Tears. She's a small, crumbling Baroque church in the heart of Seville, Spain. And at least one person -- a computer hacker nicknamed Vespers -- believes that she kills to defend herself. In Arturo Perez-Reverte's stylish and entertaining The Seville Communion, Rome sends handsome Father Lorenzo Quart to investigate. He meets a feisty parish pri Her name is Our Lady of the Tears. She's a small, crumbling Baroque church in the heart of Seville, Spain. And at least one person -- a computer hacker nicknamed Vespers -- believes that she kills to defend herself. In Arturo Perez-Reverte's stylish and entertaining The Seville Communion, Rome sends handsome Father Lorenzo Quart to investigate. He meets a feisty parish priest, a beautiful aristocrat, an ambitious banker, and three of the most touching, wonderfully ineffectual crooks to ever dabble in a life of crime. There are mysteries as well, from another death at the church to the secrets of the human heart. -- Nancy Pate

30 review for The Seville Communion

  1. 5 out of 5

    James

    3+ stars to Arturo Pérez-Reverte's The Seville Communion, a Spanish-to-English translated thriller novel with a very intriguing story about the Catholic church, corporate corruption and love. This was a good book, and I'd recommend it to fans of the genre or of translated novels; however, it could have packed even more of a punch, which is why it falls somewhere between a 3 and 4. Story Father Quart works in a special research unit (IEA -- Investigation for External Affairs) within the Cathol 3+ stars to Arturo Pérez-Reverte's The Seville Communion, a Spanish-to-English translated thriller novel with a very intriguing story about the Catholic church, corporate corruption and love. This was a good book, and I'd recommend it to fans of the genre or of translated novels; however, it could have packed even more of a punch, which is why it falls somewhere between a 3 and 4. Story Father Quart works in a special research unit (IEA -- Investigation for External Affairs) within the Catholic church, and he is sent to Seville, Spain, where someone has hacked into the Pope's personal computer to leave a message about helping a church about to be demolished. Quart, a young and handsome priest who follows the rules, finds himself torn between a lustful woman, different sides of the church and a town divided in what to do about the church. The land was deeded to the church hundreds of years ago as long as mass is said every Thursday in someone's honor. But when a ruthless corporation and corrupt town government want to sell the land to make more money, everyone's lives are in danger. The business man's wife is in the papers for cheating on him and the priest who runs the church is suspected of murder. Who's playing games and what's really going on beneath the surface? Quart finds out in the end, but he never really knows who to trust. Strengths The cast of characters is dynamic and complex. Within the church, you've got very different types of priests, and each one makes valid points about why their way is the right way. The woman having an affair almost makes you root for her to be successful against her husband, and her husband even comes off as respectable and honorable at many points. The 3 villains who have been hired to kill the priests are laughable and vivid. The lead priest, Father Quart, has a lot of depth, and you feel his struggle throughout the novel. I'm still unsure why he remains a priest, but it adds great conflict in his story and the church's story. b>Suggestions The plot is very strong, but it is purposely revealed in small amounts to draw readers in. It works, but when you get to the last 50 pages, it unwinds rather quickly with very little backstory given to support why each person made the decisions they made. It is believable, yet you want more to help drive home the complexity of the story and the need for everyone to get what they wish for. With some tweaking and a few additional story points, this would be a very strong novel. Final Thoughts For fans of thrillers and those with interest in the Catholic church, this is a great read. It certainly says many good things and many bad things about the church, and there is a lot of history about Spain to draw comparisons and conclusions about what really happened in the early 20th century. The language is beautiful and the messages are vivid. Very few translation issues if anything to even comment on. I'd read more by this author... definite style!

  2. 4 out of 5

    Algernon (Darth Anyan)

    I may prefer Arturo-Perez Reverte when he writes his historical adventures featuring Captain Alatriste, but his contemporary thrillers are not without merit. The Seville Communion is my second one, after The Club Dumas , and I had some issues with it, but overall it was quite a memorable journey, one that I intend to retrace by visiting the location soon. As a thriller set in the clerical world and dealing with mysterious murders, church politics, high finance and crises of faith, the book re I may prefer Arturo-Perez Reverte when he writes his historical adventures featuring Captain Alatriste, but his contemporary thrillers are not without merit. The Seville Communion is my second one, after The Club Dumas , and I had some issues with it, but overall it was quite a memorable journey, one that I intend to retrace by visiting the location soon. As a thriller set in the clerical world and dealing with mysterious murders, church politics, high finance and crises of faith, the book reminded me more of Umberto Eco rather than Dan Brown. It is more concerned with cultural heritage, spiritual identity and careful characterization, rather than trying to be provocative, speculative and fast paced. In fact one of my main issues is with pacing, where I often felt the plot was having a sedate siesta under the hot Andaluzian sun, waiting for the night and the narrow, meandering alleys of the old Santa Cruz district in order to get some progress made. There's quite a lot of time spend in small cafes, eating tapas, drinking Manzanilla and listening to flamenco music, having high brow conversations about astronomy and faith, history and modernism, celibacy, obedience and redemption. The main story is about a small, derelict baroque church in the old town of Seville, and the struggle between its priest and powerful real estate developers over the location. Two deaths of people directly involved in the church affairs have been ruled accidental, but an anonymous hacker alerts the Pope in Rome that foul play may be involved. Rome sends a troubleshooter to assess the situation and report back. From this basic premise, Perez-Reverte develops an intricate dance of misdirection and mystery, bringing into the game quite a colourful cast of characters: - Father Lorenzo Quart - the "Swiss Army Knife" agent of the Institute of External Affairs in Rome: disciplined and impartial, he values control and submission to the Church rules above all. He sees himself as a modern crusader, fighting the battles of the faith without questioning his commanders or the morality of his actions. The Nazarene certainly had had guts. Nobody need feel ashamed to carry His Cross like a flag. Quart often regretted not having another kind of faith. Men black with dust beneath their chain mail had once shouted the name of God as they charged into battle, to win eternal life and a place in heaven with their slashing swords. Living and dying had been so much simpler then. - Don Priamo Ferro - the impoverished priest of a small Spanish village, now in charge of the doomed Church of Our Lady of the Tears. Fiery, rebelious and uncompromising in his religious fervor, he has no respect for his superiors and would do anything to defend his parish. - Gris Marsala - an attractive and unconventional older woman, American expat, with studies in the architecture and culture of Seville, she is in charge of the renovation work at the church. - Macarena Bruner - hot blooded brunnette Andaluzian beauty, heiress of an ancient Spanish Grandee family, mysterious femme fatale that is involved both with the church and with the bank that is trying to evict the premises. (Didn't really care for her name, I blame it on Rio , Los del Rio) - Cruz Bruner - her elderly mother, duchess of El Nuevo Extremo and a trove of other titles with sonorous names but little income, living in the faded splendor of Casa del Postigo, her sumptuous family palace in the center of Seville. - Pencho Gavira - youngish, ruthless and and ambitious vice-president of the Cartujano Bank, husband of Macarena. - Perengil - his right hand man, a venal private investigator with a gambling addiction. - Don Ibrahim, El Potro del Mantelete and La Nina Punales - a trio of small time crooks and losers: confidence trickster, ex-matador / boxer and flamenco singer. They provide some humor relief and a lot of local color and trivia. The author shows off here his book geek credentials by making puns in Latin : ODERINT DUM PROBENT (which can be translated either as "smell before you taste" or "Let them hate me, as long as they respect me") There are more players in the game I didn't mention here - they are also important to the plot and well sketched - but I'm trying to be brief, and let the readers enjoy meeting each of them. It's quite a big cast of characters for a thriller, and my only complaint is that they are bit theatrical - like actors following a script - especially the villains who prove rather inept and predictable in the end. Another small gripe is about computers. The book was written when 486 PC's were all the rage and a lot of the general population was still hazy about how they work. This is probably the reason why the author was unconvincing in writing about hackers, with a romantic view of secretive Robin Hoods attacking the establishment with pretty animated tools, reminiscent of 1980's Hollywood movies: As he switches phone networks, he leaves behind a kind of explosive charge that erases any trace of his route. This hacker certainly knows what he's doing. Seville is as good a setting for the action as the Middle Age monastery from The Name of the Rose , providing a tumultous history, a passionate people, a vibrant modern life mixing with a traditionalist older generation. I got a melancholic vibe of the passing of an era, a changing of the guard, the old soldiers fading away and the new ones more concerned with instant gratification and winning by any means. The Catholic Church used to have all the power in Spain, and its struggle for significance in the modern world was ultimately the main attraction of the book for me, the question of what is worthy of preservation and what belongs in the dumping grounds of history. It is beautifully articulated by Gris Marsala: I'm convinced that every ancient building, picture, or book that's lost or destroyed, leaves us bereft. Impoverished. To illustrate this statement, the Church of Our Lady of the Tears is more than just an old pile of masonry, it is indelibly tied to one of the most romantic stories of doomed lovers in the tradition of Tristan and Isolde, Romeo and Juliet. They are Captain Xaloc and Carlotta Bruner, who met in Seville at the end of the XIX century - got separated by social conventions and intransigent families, making one leave to make his fortune by sailing to the Carribean, and the other to wait and watch from the tallest tower in town for a returning sail. The ending was a bit too neat and clear cut for my taste, but the romantic aura of Seville and its histories I think will endure.

  3. 5 out of 5

    John

    "The stunning novel of suspense," says the strapline on the cover of my edition of this novel. Review quotes elsewhere on the cover and in the first couple of pages of the book repeat that it's a thriller, talk of its "page-turning pace," describe the novel as a noir and Pérez-Reverte as "the thinking man's Robert Ludlum" . . . All of which must have disappointed a hell of a lot of readers, who'll have discovered instead a book that uses a lightly done whodunnit backdrop to give us more of a nove "The stunning novel of suspense," says the strapline on the cover of my edition of this novel. Review quotes elsewhere on the cover and in the first couple of pages of the book repeat that it's a thriller, talk of its "page-turning pace," describe the novel as a noir and Pérez-Reverte as "the thinking man's Robert Ludlum" . . . All of which must have disappointed a hell of a lot of readers, who'll have discovered instead a book that uses a lightly done whodunnit backdrop to give us more of a novel of ideas than anything else -- the ideas in question relating to Catholicism, ethics, astronomy and more. In place of the vaunted "page-turning pace" we have a narrative that moves at what in fact is a very measured pace, even meandering on occasion -- which is part of what makes it so very, very engrossing. I was absolutely involved in this tale and its characters; once I'd finished it, my wife laughed at me when I told her how pissed off I was that I didn't have any more of it to read. The setup in brief: A hacker breaks into the Vatican network to alert the Pope's very own personal computer to the fact that there's some dirty business going on concerning an ancient small church in Seville. The Vatican couldn't care less about the fate of that church, but for the sake of face dispatches a sort of priestly James Bond, Lorenzo Quart, to investigate the situation and in particular identify the hacker. Quart arrives to find an array of corrupt businessmen who, with the complicity of the mayor and the archbishop of Seville, seek to buy the land the church is on, raze the building and make a bonanza profit selling the real estate for development; ranged against them are the church's curmudgeonly old priest, his callow assistant, an ageing architect/nun who's been managing the building's necessary renovations and an aristocratic but down-on-their-heels mother and daughter. Just to complicate matters, the daughter is married (albeit estranged) to the ringleader of the corrupt businessmen, and Quart finds her, despite his vows, magnetically attractive. I mentioned that this was a novel of ideas. It's also, in many aspects, a comedy, primarily through the strand of its plot featuring a trio of incompetent crooks hired by the bad guys to nobble the old priest or in some other way ensure that the church falls out of its present hands and into theirs. The antics of this trio are as funny as you'd find in a Carl Hiaasen novel, or in one of Donald Westlake's crime comedies (e.g., his Dortmunder tales), and had me laughing aloud on several occasions. Of the several Pérez-Reverte novels that I've read, this is the least flamboyant: its events won't change the world, there's no rattling swordplay, etc. It's just a rather quiet novel that has so many good things about it that I'd find it hard to count them all. If you come to the book expecting a "stunning novel of suspense" that moves with "page-turning pace," I could quite imagine you might even find The Seville Communion a bit dull. For me, I had difficulty putting it down at night and it colored my days. What more could one ask?

  4. 5 out of 5

    Jord

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. I found this book in a resort in the Caribbean, it took me two holidays to actually finish reading it. I was never gripped by it but was curious to see how the plot would evolve. I found it overall disappointing. The characters were superficial and stereotypical, the rich were beautiful, the poor either "greasy" or grotesque. The descriptions of them, particularly of the more interesting trio the boxer, the fake lawyer and the singer were repetitive, page and page over. So were the descriptions I found this book in a resort in the Caribbean, it took me two holidays to actually finish reading it. I was never gripped by it but was curious to see how the plot would evolve. I found it overall disappointing. The characters were superficial and stereotypical, the rich were beautiful, the poor either "greasy" or grotesque. The descriptions of them, particularly of the more interesting trio the boxer, the fake lawyer and the singer were repetitive, page and page over. So were the descriptions of the sunlight on the church, on the river, and everywhere else, even though we are talking about torrid Seville, descriptions of the light must amass a good 10 pages. I liked the bit on astronomy, and the introspective nature of the Father of the Parish, but even that was kept short to the point you could not really get through to the main character of the plot. The vision of the aristocracy seems a rather common-place one of composure and subtle superiority, the clever elderly lady who hacks computers (hardly believable). And even after a fight in the dark where everybody fights and gets punched the beautiful young duchess is the only one who was kept immaculate, lol. That you have to read the very last sentence to get to know who the killer was may seem stylish, but hey hardly original, or is it?

  5. 4 out of 5

    Lobstergirl

    "If we are to believe the sad publishing statistics that the average American buys only one book per year, this should be that book," intones a blurb from BookPage. "If you can afford the luxury of two books, read this one twice. It's that good." Hm! This novel, about a Vatican investigator sent to Seville to figure out who is hacking into the pope's computer and why two people have died mysteriously at a local church slated for demolition, is overlong at 375 pages with a meandering plot, annoyin "If we are to believe the sad publishing statistics that the average American buys only one book per year, this should be that book," intones a blurb from BookPage. "If you can afford the luxury of two books, read this one twice. It's that good." Hm! This novel, about a Vatican investigator sent to Seville to figure out who is hacking into the pope's computer and why two people have died mysteriously at a local church slated for demolition, is overlong at 375 pages with a meandering plot, annoying subplots, and characters we're supposed to find intriguing and super sexy who are not that interesting. The protagonist-investigator is a celibate 40-something priest with movie star good looks who is always thinking about beautiful young women's long legs and heavy firm breasts and finally allows himself to be seduced by a married woman - just this once. The author wallows in misogyny: "It's hard, you know, for any woman to realize that she's lost her looks for good," says one woman. "She must have been attractive once," thinks the hot priest, about a woman in her 40s. People think this 40-something woman, a nun, must be a lesbian because she's slim with a boyish figure and has....a gray braid. A woman who is 69 is repeatedly referred to as wrinkled as a raisin, hopelessly ancient looking, and "remarkably bright and vivacious for her age." I had read one other novel by this author but I won't bother with any more.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Ms.pegasus

    The set-up is intriguing. A hacker, dubbed “Vespers,” breaks into the Pope's personal email and leaves a cryptic plea to save an obscure historic church in Seville. Political and financial interests including the archbishop of Seville want the church demolished to exploit the value of the real estate. The hacker has been careful to conceal his tracks, and the security breach seems to disturb the Vatican hierarchy more than the contents of the message, despite the disclosure that recently, two de The set-up is intriguing. A hacker, dubbed “Vespers,” breaks into the Pope's personal email and leaves a cryptic plea to save an obscure historic church in Seville. Political and financial interests including the archbishop of Seville want the church demolished to exploit the value of the real estate. The hacker has been careful to conceal his tracks, and the security breach seems to disturb the Vatican hierarchy more than the contents of the message, despite the disclosure that recently, two deaths occurred during the repair work on the church. The deaths were apparent accidents. A municipal architect fell due to a loose balustrade; the archbishop's secretary was crushed by a chunk of debris from the ceiling. The email drops dark insinuations about the hand of God. The focus, however, is on the hacker, who has elevated the affair to a high stakes political confrontation between Archbishop Paolo Spada and Cardinal Iwaszkiewicz. The Pope has directed the Institute for External Affairs, a kind of Internal Affairs Department headed by Archbishop Spada, to discover the identity of the hacker. Cardinal Iwaszkiewicz hopes for a misstep that can be blamed on his rival. From the start, the dissonance between a computer hacker and Vatican emails commands interest which is intensified by the delineation of the political rivalries. Pérez-Reverte involves even the most secular-minded of readers in this maneuvering for power. He creates a long list of colorful characters. Cardinal Iwaszkiewicz is immediately established as shadowy and dangerous. His department, the Sacred Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, was formerly called the Office of the Inquisition. When introduced into the story, he lingers by the window rather than taking a seat across from Archbishop Speda. There is an electrical outage that shrouds the meeting in semi-darkness. Their conversation is thick with careful formality that exudes even more menace. The third attendee at this meeting is Father Lorenzo Quart, Spada's agent. He's reliable and discreet, “as precise and stable as a Swiss Army knife.” (p.7) Hints of his childhood also suggest he is a brittle vessel of guarded emotions. He is the embodiment of religious inversion. Celibacy is the foundation of his pride; obedience is a replacement for piety. Drop-dead handsome and elegantly tailored, Quart is the enigmatic agent dispatched to Seville to conduct the delicate and highly secret investigation. In Seville more characters appear. Pencho Gavira is an ambitious banker; his assistant Celestino Perégil is a toad-like toady with a gambling problem. Don Ibraham is a disbarred lawyer whose wistful memories mingle fact and fiction; El Potro del Mantelete is a perpetually benumbed ex-boxer and failed bullfighter; La Niña Puñales is an alcoholic chanteuse scraping by at seedy nightclubs. Gris Marsala is the chief architect and art historian in charge of the stalled restoration project; Macarena Bruner de Lebrija is the banker Gaviras's estranged wife; Maria Cruz Eugenia Bruner is the dowager duchess and Macarena's mother; and Don Octavo Machuca is Macarena's godfather and the about-to-retire chairman of Gavira's bank. It's worth the time to keep a notebook of these names while reading the book. There are additional characters drawn from the past as well as the story's present. The author gives each character, particularly the comedic ones, a compelling set of intentions and then releases them to pursue their convoluted schemes. The characters do not disappoint. Some even warm to their roles. Quart arrives in Seville protesting that he is only there as a neutral observer — a mere reporter of sorts. He is blind to the fact that his very objectivity is what is objectionable to the impassioned supporters of the church. Strip away the emotional connections to history and art and all that remains is a monetary assessment. Obviously, no one provides any clues about the identity of the mysterious hacker. The person with the strongest motive is the parish priest so old he hardly seems a candidate for computer literacy. Neutrality is a convenient conceit that not even Quart fully believes. There are always consequences. A past investigation by Quart had disturbing results. An activist Brazilian priest was brutally murdered after one of his “neutral” reports. (The ethical position of neutrality is a central theme in Pérez-Reverte's next book). That the church's supporters are not motivated by religious fervor is a surprising conundrum. Father Ferro, the parish priest, is a battered relic whose religious belief dried up long ago. He rebukes Quart's taunts with a defiant declaration: “Faith doesn't ever need the existence of God.” (p.134). Quart dismissively assesses Father Oscar the assistant priest's fervor: “At your age, life is more dramatic. Ideas and lost causes carry you away.” (p.132). The story slips from a thriller to variations on the theme of existential crisis. Pérez-Reverte is most successful at evoking the spirit of Seville. The Plaza Virgen de los Reyes is described as the “crossroads of three religions.” (p.69) White washed walls, the scent of orange blossoms, manzanilla crafted over the centuries, and azure skies dotted by pigeons envelope the senses. In his epigram he offers the usual caution that this is a work of fiction, but adds: “Only the setting is true. Nobody could invent a city like Seville.” The touches of humor that are interspersed are somewhat less successful. The reader is complicit in these attempts, not so much due to the skill of the writing as to the fondness developed for the characters and their foibles. (view spoiler)[When Gavira in frustration orders the church to be torched, can a botched job not be in the cards? (hide spoiler)] Readers of Pérez-Reverte's earlier books will be delighted with his love for art, history and story-telling. Despite the existential exploration that preoccupies much of the story, he also returns to the tonal color of mystery he opened with. His conclusion reverts to a satisfying mix of closure and beguiling ambiguity. Yet, it is clear he is an author in transition. His mind is already focusing on more somber thoughts that draw on his career as a journalist and which are explored in his next book, THE PAINTER OF BATTLES. I didn't enjoy this book as much as I enjoyed THE CLUB DUMAS, but a book by Pérez-Reverte is always a worthwhile read. For those of us who have never been to Seville, photos of the actual Plaza Virgen de los Reyes and the Santa Cruz area are worth viewing. http://www.aviewoncities.com/seville/... http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Santa_Cr... The polychrome sculpture of the Spanish baroque period is central to the church's mystique. Gregorio Fernandez and Juan Martinez Montanes are two of the primary artists of the period. This website is one example of the pieces from this period. http://caravaggista.com/2011/09/baroq...

  7. 4 out of 5

    Jim Fonseca

    A mystery with great local color of Seville, Spain. A handsome young priest works for the Vatican’s, let’s call it “Internal Affairs Division.” He is called to Seville to look into the mess surrounding a potential church closing. It’s a tiny parish and the diocese can make a lot of money by demolishing the church and selling the land. The problem is that a few diehards want to keep the church open: a crotchety old priest and his young protégée; a glamorous young woman whose antics get her in cel A mystery with great local color of Seville, Spain. A handsome young priest works for the Vatican’s, let’s call it “Internal Affairs Division.” He is called to Seville to look into the mess surrounding a potential church closing. It’s a tiny parish and the diocese can make a lot of money by demolishing the church and selling the land. The problem is that a few diehards want to keep the church open: a crotchety old priest and his young protégée; a glamorous young woman whose antics get her in celebrity newspapers; her mother who has money to support the church; and a renegade American nun who is working on restoring the church statues and artwork. The husband of the glamorous woman is a banker who is in on the financial deal. The banker hires a trio, two men and a woman, a kind of Three Stooges, to spy on the various parties and to make sure the church closes. Three people die in the church in mysterious circumstances. The young priest and the glamorous woman are attracted to each other and let’s just say that everyone in the novel ends up with a lot to confess. Fast-moving and a good read.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Kelly

    The end is disappointing. He falls into the dark lady cliche trap. But the book is beautifully written, with a touch of Marquez swirling around in there amongst the rest of his wonderful writing. The mystery's concept and development are mostly wonderful. I just think he couldn't decide to what to do with the ending, and he made the wrong choice. But again, great book. Loved it. I will read it again.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Jane

    This brilliant story has a surprising ending. The scenes of Sevilla and the dialogue are so vivid. By the way I read it in Spanish where the title is "La piel del tambor." I think this is his best of the so-called mysteries, although they are much more than that. His mastery of all aspects of the Spanish languages, from the 17th-century dialogue in the Capitan Alatriste series, to the Mexican street language and Spanish drug slang to the 19th-century Franglish in "Trafalgar" have earned him a pl This brilliant story has a surprising ending. The scenes of Sevilla and the dialogue are so vivid. By the way I read it in Spanish where the title is "La piel del tambor." I think this is his best of the so-called mysteries, although they are much more than that. His mastery of all aspects of the Spanish languages, from the 17th-century dialogue in the Capitan Alatriste series, to the Mexican street language and Spanish drug slang to the 19th-century Franglish in "Trafalgar" have earned him a place in the Real Academia de la Lengua. He is my favorite modern writer.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Judi

    A hacker breaks into the Vatican's computer to leave a message for the Pope that says that there i's a church in Seville that "kills to defend itself." It turns out that there is a church that some want to tear down and to be replaced with a more profitable adventure. And two people have died accidentally. Abhorring any kind of scandal, the Catholic Church gets the IEA (Institute of External Affairs) to look into the matter. They send Father Lorenzo Quart to impartially gather information about A hacker breaks into the Vatican's computer to leave a message for the Pope that says that there i's a church in Seville that "kills to defend itself." It turns out that there is a church that some want to tear down and to be replaced with a more profitable adventure. And two people have died accidentally. Abhorring any kind of scandal, the Catholic Church gets the IEA (Institute of External Affairs) to look into the matter. They send Father Lorenzo Quart to impartially gather information about the unfortunate incidents of this run down Baroque church called Our Lady of the Tears and to determine the hacker's identity. Quart is not your Father Confessor. He's well dressed, good looking, secretive and a good Intelligence soldier for the Church. Soon he finds that the answers in Seville are not the ones he is seeking. For me, this was not a fast read, which is a positive statement. Seville is a very enchanting, old place which Pérez-Reverte describes in a style that engages all of our senses. He creates some very unforgettable characters that are reinforced with repeated descriptions. The plot is thick with politics, greed, history, yet moves along at pace that can be compared to a pleasant walk through Seville (which there are many of). I would not call this an action thriller or a "page-turner" as it wanders a bit too much and I did have to go back to the beginning and start again during the second chapter. But there is something that compelled me to the end. The concern with old fashioned faith, love, commitment and the philosophy thereof are intellectually satisfying. There are some humorous scenes and the ending twists a few times. Perhaps the most rewarding surprises are Father Quart's decisions and the true meaning behind the title of the book. I recommend the book, but with one caveat; read it because it takes you to Seville, not because you are looking for a good hacker mystery.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Lynn Abbey

    Okay, so I bought this book thinking it was part of the author's Captain Alatriste series and almost returned it when I realized it was a technological thriller, set in 1995-vintage Seville, with a Vatican priest as the main character. I'm very glad I kept it. For me, it was less a thriller (though the mysteries are intriguing), more an intense character-study of a very different sort of man. Lorenzo Quart, the priest and protagonist, characterizes himself as "the last Knight Templar," obedient a Okay, so I bought this book thinking it was part of the author's Captain Alatriste series and almost returned it when I realized it was a technological thriller, set in 1995-vintage Seville, with a Vatican priest as the main character. I'm very glad I kept it. For me, it was less a thriller (though the mysteries are intriguing), more an intense character-study of a very different sort of man. Lorenzo Quart, the priest and protagonist, characterizes himself as "the last Knight Templar," obedient and loyal to an institution that rarely has his best interests at heart. He's not a character who happens to be a priest, but a priest who happens to be a participant in a series of relatively small events that change him in cherished ways. The backdrop is Seville, Spain -- a city I now want to visit -- and the supporting characters are, I have to believe, as typical of that city as any of Damon Runyon's or Dashell Hammett's characters were typical of their milieux, and just as dignified and memorable. I read this novel in a translation by Sonia Soto who rendered Perez-Reverte's prose into simple, yet elegant English

  12. 5 out of 5

    Lisa

    The star of this show was Seville, that Andalusian centuries old charmer wrapped in her robes of every sort of pageantry the history of Europe had to offer. Pérez-Reverte deftly uses the complexity of setting, its layers of contrasts and contradictions to underpin the same aspects of its clerics, the stubborn old priest Don Priamo and handsome, disciplined Lorenzo Quart. The story-ostensibly a thriller-is set in motion when a hacker makes his way through to the pope's personal computer leaving a The star of this show was Seville, that Andalusian centuries old charmer wrapped in her robes of every sort of pageantry the history of Europe had to offer. Pérez-Reverte deftly uses the complexity of setting, its layers of contrasts and contradictions to underpin the same aspects of its clerics, the stubborn old priest Don Priamo and handsome, disciplined Lorenzo Quart. The story-ostensibly a thriller-is set in motion when a hacker makes his way through to the pope's personal computer leaving a message concerning a beleaguered church in Seville that kills to save itself. The church dispatches Quart, its James Bond in a clerical collar, to find out what's going on in Seville. Quart finds Seville awash in romance and beauty. The Andalusian sun glows off the skin of the handsome blue bloods, orange blossoms shimmer under its ray. Yet, there are troubling accidental deaths at Our Lady of Tears, a baroque church in the heart of Santa Cruz. The crumbling church sets in the midst of a real estate gold mine. Its small congregation and priests are trying to hold the vultures - a scheming bank executive and the archbishop at bay. The characters are well enough wrought though only a few truly shine while most are just a bit better than cliche. Gris Marsala, the nun and architecture expert, is interesting. On the other hand Macarena Bruner is not. The author surely wants us to find Quart mysteriously fascinating - again he is not. There is much pondering about the limits of his faith. Far too much is made of his manliness and stunning beauty. Gets a bit overbearing. There is a clownish trio hired to interfere with the priest. They are tedious. The story is interesting enough. The characters interesting enough. The pace is slow going for a thriller, still it kept my attention.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Cynthia

    It's funny (well, funny to me) that I read this right after reading Daniel Silva's Fallen Angel. Both are about Vatican "hit men," sent out to intervene in crimes that involve priests, churches, art, death. If you ever find yourself wondering what sets a good thriller apart from a literary thriller, those two books (fallen angel and seville communion) kind of sum it up. In fallen angel, the action is fast, the dialogue is fairly minimal, there is some soul searching but it's fairly clipped. The It's funny (well, funny to me) that I read this right after reading Daniel Silva's Fallen Angel. Both are about Vatican "hit men," sent out to intervene in crimes that involve priests, churches, art, death. If you ever find yourself wondering what sets a good thriller apart from a literary thriller, those two books (fallen angel and seville communion) kind of sum it up. In fallen angel, the action is fast, the dialogue is fairly minimal, there is some soul searching but it's fairly clipped. The Seville Communion has some of those elements but the pace is much slower, the descriptions are more vivid and the philosophical meditations are deeper. There is the surface story but the different characters do represent Other Things (if you feel like thinking about it that deeply; you can still enjoy this book even if you just want to read it for the plot). Perez-Reverte has two kinds of books: Ones that are experimental and a little hard to finish; and ones that are meant to entertain. This book is definitely in the category of fun to read and easy to finish, but it definitely is a slower, more stately read than fallen angel. The characters are interesting; the dialogue is interesting enough to make you forget that it's fiction; the story and the meditations make you think about life and faith and the afterlife, but not so much that it's painful.

  14. 5 out of 5

    ἀρχαῖος (arkhaîos)(RK)

    2.5 stars. Poor writing. Weak plot. Conceptually okay - a few ideas to contemplate. - I am travelling and was given this book on my first day away from home by someone I was staying with. Given that my time has been broken up by a constant flow of social encounters, I have had difficulty reading anything more serious. Hence this review. - I have often been curious about the novels of Pérez-Reverte. I no longer am. I found much of my reading experience to be spoiled by stereotypical characters, sti 2.5 stars. Poor writing. Weak plot. Conceptually okay - a few ideas to contemplate. - I am travelling and was given this book on my first day away from home by someone I was staying with. Given that my time has been broken up by a constant flow of social encounters, I have had difficulty reading anything more serious. Hence this review. - I have often been curious about the novels of Pérez-Reverte. I no longer am. I found much of my reading experience to be spoiled by stereotypical characters, stilted dialogue and a contrived plot. The attempt at creating comic relief through the three inept criminals fell quite flat for me. I have never been a fan of slapstick humour. - The saving grace for me was the attempt by Pérez-Reverte to include some serious discussion about the nature of history and time. While I would have appreciated a more in-depth discussion, I was pleasantly surprised by the very fact of the inclusion of these ideas in the book. - The linking of discussions of family history, changing human fate and time relations in astronomy, were meant to give the reader pause and to reflect upon her own place in the world as it spins intractably bringing her onto the stage and then off again. Kinda cool.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Ibis3

    I had pretty high expectations of this book & though I liked some elements of it (Vatican politics, Templar metaphor for the hero, the description of Seville, and the setup of the plot), I was quite disappointed. I think the book was a bit rambling (especially for a mystery/thriller), the investigator didn't seem to be as good as his rep (view spoiler)[(he failed to solve either mystery--the identity of the hacker which he only discovered "after the fact" because it was revealed to him, i.e. not I had pretty high expectations of this book & though I liked some elements of it (Vatican politics, Templar metaphor for the hero, the description of Seville, and the setup of the plot), I was quite disappointed. I think the book was a bit rambling (especially for a mystery/thriller), the investigator didn't seem to be as good as his rep (view spoiler)[(he failed to solve either mystery--the identity of the hacker which he only discovered "after the fact" because it was revealed to him, i.e. not because he figured it out, and the murder mystery) (hide spoiler)] . In effect this story was more about the intellectual & spiritual challenges facing Catholic clergy (and the declining remnants of the old aristocracy) in a modern age than about a Vatican investigator sent out to ferret out the truth about some mysterious events. I don't think I would have minded the long digressions into philosophy if the main "thriller" plot had been stronger.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Liam

    At first I wasn't sure I liked this book, but I'm glad I kept reading anyway... I have a tendency to like books about priests, probably because I nearly became one. The seminary puts an indelible mark on even a man who got thrown out as quickly as I did (I prefer to think it was my questions about the mis-translation of Song of Solomon chapter 7, verse 2; on the other hand, it probably had something to do with several fistfights, breaking a poolstick over someone's head in the commons area, and At first I wasn't sure I liked this book, but I'm glad I kept reading anyway... I have a tendency to like books about priests, probably because I nearly became one. The seminary puts an indelible mark on even a man who got thrown out as quickly as I did (I prefer to think it was my questions about the mis-translation of Song of Solomon chapter 7, verse 2; on the other hand, it probably had something to do with several fistfights, breaking a poolstick over someone's head in the commons area, and the evidence of bad habits which was found during a search of my desk...). I liked the character of Father Lorenzo Quart, and, despite the ridiculous Nabokov quote, I thought the story's end was happy enough in that it was perfectly appropriate. Screw Nabokov, anyway. In my view there are not enough happy endings in this "vale of tears", so to speak. My only quibble would be this: If you make a mistake in your Latin, and I detect it, you are either incredibly arrogant (thinking no one will notice), or incredibly lazy and/or incompetent. I got nothing better than a D+ in Latin class, which had more to do with my teacher's forbearance than any effort whatsoever on my part. I deserved an F. What little Latin comprehension I still retain I owe to Pastor Thomas Haar, who not only was an excellent teacher but also a good man and a true priest of God, one of the few I have met in either of those last two categories. In any case, even I knew immediately that "...this do in remembrance of me" is not translated as "...hoc facite in meam commemorationem". For one thing, I knew the proper word was "memoriam", not "commemorationem", which I am not sure is even a word at all. The proper phrase in the Tridentine Mass is: "Haec quotiescumque feceritis, in mei memoriam facietis.".

  17. 4 out of 5

    Dean Kauffman

    This the the first of 4 books by Perez-Reverte I have read and I have liked them a lot. This one may be especially appropriate right now in that takes place partially in the Vatican. The story starts with a hacker gaining accessed the Pope's personal computer to put a message about a small Seville church that is going to be demolished. A very unusual priest - very snappy dresser - who seems to specialize in defusing difficult situations, is sent to investigate what has become a very muddled mess This the the first of 4 books by Perez-Reverte I have read and I have liked them a lot. This one may be especially appropriate right now in that takes place partially in the Vatican. The story starts with a hacker gaining accessed the Pope's personal computer to put a message about a small Seville church that is going to be demolished. A very unusual priest - very snappy dresser - who seems to specialize in defusing difficult situations, is sent to investigate what has become a very muddled mess. Several deaths are associated with it. I am not going to go into details, however Perez-Reverte seems to specialize in details - and very believable details, about the inner workings of the Vatican of Spain and Seville especially relating to church, business and government intrigue. All his books that I have read are mysteries, but different from many of the mysteries that I like - there is no common detective. The author is very literate, but not to the almost incomprehensible degree that Umberto Eco gets to for example. There is no "detective" solving the problem but the protagonists are really well drawn - their inner thoughts and motives so well described that these are just a joy to read. In every book, Perez-Reverte demonstrates intricate knowledge of additional areas not previously suspected. I am certainly going to read some more of his works.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Rick

    THE SEVILLE COMMUNION starts when someone hacks into the Pope’s personal computer to plead for saving a small church, Our Lady of the Tears, in central Seville. The church is small and dilapidated and is led by an elderly and old fashioned priest, Father Ferro. It is also slated for demolition, as Bank Cartujano and its greedy vice chairman, working in cahoots with the local archbishop, want to make a fortune by buying the property at a fraction of its true value. The Vatican dispatches Father Lor THE SEVILLE COMMUNION starts when someone hacks into the Pope’s personal computer to plead for saving a small church, Our Lady of the Tears, in central Seville. The church is small and dilapidated and is led by an elderly and old fashioned priest, Father Ferro. It is also slated for demolition, as Bank Cartujano and its greedy vice chairman, working in cahoots with the local archbishop, want to make a fortune by buying the property at a fraction of its true value. The Vatican dispatches Father Lorenzo Quart to Seville to discover the identity of the hacker, and in the course of the investigation, we meet many memorable characters – the bank’s chairman and vice chairman, the vice chairman’s beautiful estranged wife and her mother, a nun from California who is working to restore the church, a variety of clerics and others. We also, like Father Quart, become involved in the struggle over the church, and we are kept on edge until the last moment. The various plot lines are finally resolved, but just as importantly, we have learned a lot about the characters – especially Father Quart – and THE SEVILLE COMMUNION has a lot more depth than many mystery novels. I recommend the book highly to anyone interested in a good read.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Sarah

    An enjoyable thriller/mystery, although not the most compelling ever. The story-line itself is not that dramatic -- it is a relatively "quiet" story about a church doomed to be torn down and the people who are trying to save it from that fate. However, the author delves a bit into dealing with the philosophical, existential and moral questions faced by the characters. The book moved more slowly than I was expecting for a thriller, but what kept me engaged were the vivid and interesting character An enjoyable thriller/mystery, although not the most compelling ever. The story-line itself is not that dramatic -- it is a relatively "quiet" story about a church doomed to be torn down and the people who are trying to save it from that fate. However, the author delves a bit into dealing with the philosophical, existential and moral questions faced by the characters. The book moved more slowly than I was expecting for a thriller, but what kept me engaged were the vivid and interesting characters. None of them were all that likeable, but they tended to grow on me as the book progressed. The main character, a priest doing investigation for the Vatican, becomes more complex and faces his own breaches of faith and moral involvement in the situation. I was surprised by the big reveal at the end of who the hacker was, but I felt like it wasn't really tied all that well to the rest of the story -- the book was framed by this hacker, but he/she (not revealing which!) was not an important part of the main story in the end.

  20. 4 out of 5

    C. Bennis

    The Seville Communion is arguably one of Perez Reverte's best books. The narrative is about a small chapel in Sevilla that is scheduled to be razed because the mayor has plans and investors for the site occupied by the church. There is only one problem: the church is killing the very workers that are trying to destroy it. The city government is livid, so they present the problem to a higher authority: the Vatican, and solicit intervention and resolution of their problem. Their plea goes all the The Seville Communion is arguably one of Perez Reverte's best books. The narrative is about a small chapel in Sevilla that is scheduled to be razed because the mayor has plans and investors for the site occupied by the church. There is only one problem: the church is killing the very workers that are trying to destroy it. The city government is livid, so they present the problem to a higher authority: the Vatican, and solicit intervention and resolution of their problem. Their plea goes all the way to the Pope who sends a warrior priest (they exist) to Sevilla. In a political wrangling to shirk responsibility, the warrior priest has an exemplary career of dedication to the Vatican. The resolution of the problem will secure his status quo, a failure might send him to a remote church in South America. This book is as no other. I could not put it down. In a lifetime of reading, this is one of the books that will always be close to my heart.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Hilary

    I really enjoyed Club Dumas and Flander Panel, also by Perez-Reverte, but his other books that I've read really don't compare. Seville Communion is relatively entertaining, but it's pretty obvious what's going to happen next. A character leaves a gasoline-soaked rag in an ashtray (a fact that's mentioned repeatedly) and, shockingly, someone uses the ashtray for its intended purpose and the place goes up in smoke. Club Dumas and Flanders Panel had flaws, but they had a subtlety that Seville Commu I really enjoyed Club Dumas and Flander Panel, also by Perez-Reverte, but his other books that I've read really don't compare. Seville Communion is relatively entertaining, but it's pretty obvious what's going to happen next. A character leaves a gasoline-soaked rag in an ashtray (a fact that's mentioned repeatedly) and, shockingly, someone uses the ashtray for its intended purpose and the place goes up in smoke. Club Dumas and Flanders Panel had flaws, but they had a subtlety that Seville Communion definitely lacked. Also, the ending was supposed to be a twist, but waiting until the last line to change everything you know is less of a twist and more of a cop-out in my mind.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Carlos Alonso-Niemeyer

    Anything by Perez-Reverte is good. I found this at an airport. I usually read him in Spanish, but I needed a book for my flight. I loved the part where he goes to a fine tailor and buys himself a very expensive priest outfit. He is asked why he spends so much money for his clothes. His answers is that his clothes are an uniform. If he is going to be dealing with very powerful people, he needs to wear the correct uniform. The book has intrigue and action. Highly recommended. This could easily be ma Anything by Perez-Reverte is good. I found this at an airport. I usually read him in Spanish, but I needed a book for my flight. I loved the part where he goes to a fine tailor and buys himself a very expensive priest outfit. He is asked why he spends so much money for his clothes. His answers is that his clothes are an uniform. If he is going to be dealing with very powerful people, he needs to wear the correct uniform. The book has intrigue and action. Highly recommended. This could easily be made into a movie.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Ken

    This is a book that I could put down and did because it was fairly predictable. But I stayed with it because the story was interesting and there were some interesting characters...though not always believable. A Vatican priest/agent with a clouded history is sent to investigate a situation in Seville that hardly seems worth the effort. Instead, He is inticed into a secondary plot that involves several deaths and a 100 year old love story. Arturo Pérez-Reverte has written better than this and I w This is a book that I could put down and did because it was fairly predictable. But I stayed with it because the story was interesting and there were some interesting characters...though not always believable. A Vatican priest/agent with a clouded history is sent to investigate a situation in Seville that hardly seems worth the effort. Instead, He is inticed into a secondary plot that involves several deaths and a 100 year old love story. Arturo Pérez-Reverte has written better than this and I would like to give some of his other books a chance.

  24. 4 out of 5

    eric

    perez-reverte's writing style is fluid, elegant and relaxing. the mildly interesting story about the conflicts between religion, politics, and all the individuals who get caught in between is set in a beautifully described local. the main thing that i took from reading the seville communion is that i would really like to visit seville.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Laurie

    I loved the idea of this book. Someone breaks into the Vatican's computer and leaves a note about a church in peril and a priest/agent is sent to investigate. Unfortunately the tale takes too long to tell and it is not a page turner. I forced myself to finish. I think the author had a good idea but did not put enough into making the story flow and mostly I was just glad I was done.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Jerrie Ott

    The characters were very vivid and well developed, but the pace was incredibly slow for my taste. I found the story line compelling, but I never really got into the book. I still have high hopes for Perez-Reverte's other novels.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Nethre

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. Years back I bought this book on sales, begin to read it and failed to finish it. It just couldn't catch my interest back then. Now over ten years later, I finally choose to read it and finally, finished it as well. Not saying it was pleasure to read. Same reasons why I couldn't finish it in first time, was present there all the time on this second try. Author seemed to get lost in picturing churches, streets, city of Sevilla, bringing up memories, situations and details that weren't relevant fo Years back I bought this book on sales, begin to read it and failed to finish it. It just couldn't catch my interest back then. Now over ten years later, I finally choose to read it and finally, finished it as well. Not saying it was pleasure to read. Same reasons why I couldn't finish it in first time, was present there all the time on this second try. Author seemed to get lost in picturing churches, streets, city of Sevilla, bringing up memories, situations and details that weren't relevant for the story in any way. Could have cut a lot of stuff away from the story to make progress smoother and pleasurable to read. Now I just had to skip some sections only because it was full of unnecessary jargon that only make me fall in sleep and lost last crumbs of my interest for the story. Mostly I felt only sad for the characters, especially Lorenzo and Macarena who seemed to be so lost in their lives. And alone. They could have find something together, but they didn't let it happen and in the end they just went separate ways, both miserable and alone. Also I did find some sidecharacters, like gang of three, mostly stupid... even I guess they ment to be comical, but ending to be just absurd. Too stereotypical to be realistic or even beliavable. Summa summarum, the idea of story possessed a lot of potential to be great. Sadly, it failed to be nothing else but okey at its best.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Alan

    When someone has hacked into the Pope's personal computer and left a message about a church killing to protect itself, Father Lorenzo Quart of the Institute for External Affairs which coordinates the secret activities of the Vatican's Information Services. The IEA is also referred to as God's Left Hand or the Dirty Works Department. Father Quart is sent to Seville, Spain to investigate and to try to find out who the hacker is. Very interesting politics. Well written.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Saskia Marijke Niehorster-Cook

    From all the Arturo Perez Reverte books I've read, this one is the least interesting one. I wonder if it partly as to do with the fact that I read this one in English and that his usually picturesque vocabulary and the way he flourishes phrases the way others flourish swords is literally lost in the translation... This book delves in the Catholic church's inner machinations and the way they deal with rogue priests who break the vote of "obeissance" because of their strong belief that they are doi From all the Arturo Perez Reverte books I've read, this one is the least interesting one. I wonder if it partly as to do with the fact that I read this one in English and that his usually picturesque vocabulary and the way he flourishes phrases the way others flourish swords is literally lost in the translation... This book delves in the Catholic church's inner machinations and the way they deal with rogue priests who break the vote of "obeissance" because of their strong belief that they are doing the work of God and that the powers of the Church are not as interested in God but more so in power and control, and of course, profit. It is an interesting account on the different levels of priesthood and the different chapters of the church, and which one wields which power and decision power. The book begins with the hacking of the Pope's computer where a message is left describing a little dilapidated and moldy church in Seville, Spain, which is about to be torn down and sold, when in fact it still renders valuable service to a handful of down trodded people by an old and down to earth priest with no other interest in life than to serve his flock. A young and handsome priest is sent to investigate while remaining neutral. This priest finds many little mysteries and is partly hindered by an old Nemesis: a severe and conservative cardinal; and partly swayed by a beautiful aristocratic married woman who is a devout follower of the Church of the Lady of the Tears. The lady in question is very vested in this church, in part due to the fact that it was her family who donated the land and built the church centuries in the past, and whose ancestors still rest in the catacombs of the Lady of Tears church; in part because her favorite aunt's story: A Romeo and Juliet love story in which her aunt's young and intrepid lover, a poor man who goes to make his fortune as a pirate and comes back too late with the dowry of pearls that become the tears on the church's statue of the virgin mother; and in part because she believes fully in the priest's best intentions. The lady's husband is a self made man whose desire to be top banker and socialite drives his wife away and whose will to succeed makes him resort to all things immoral and murky. What follows is an intricate tale of mystery, computer hacking, gambling, stolen items, explosions, kidnapping and murder. Each step taken tipping the next event in a domino effect that eventually gets out of hand. Leave it to the Church to set it all right... Favorite Quotes: "This modest church was far removed from the vulgarity of Technicolor religions where anything went - open-air arenas, giant television screens, Goebbels' methods,rock concerts, the dialectic of the world cup, and electronic sprinklers for holy water. Like the forgotten pawns who didn't know whether there was still a King to fight for, some pieces chose their square - a place where they could die. Father Ferro had chosen his, and Lorenzo Quart, experiences head hunter for the Roman Curia, didn't find it difficult to understand. Perhaps for that reason he now had doubts, sitting in the small, dilapidated, lonely church that the old priest had made into his tower: a refuge where he could defend the last of his flock from the prowling wolves outside." (pg. 175) "Father Ferro frowned. "What does it matter whether I have faith or not? Those who come to me have faith. That is justification enough for the existence of Our Lady of the Tears. And it is no coincidence that it's a church of the Baroque, which was the art of the Counter-Reformation, which declared, 'Don't think, leave that to the theologians. Admire the carvings, the gilding, the sumptuous altars, the passion plays that have been the essential means of entrancing the masses since the time of Aristotle... Be dazzled by the glory of God. Too much analysis robs you of hope. See us as the solid rock in which to take refuge from the roaring torrent. The truth kills you before your time." (pg. 214) She spoke so quietly that Quart could hardly make out her words. "I belong to a breed that is dying out, and I am fully aware of it. It's luck, really, because there's no longer a place for people like me and my family, or for memories like mine... Or for beautiful, tragic stories like Carlotta Bruner and Captain Xaloc." The ember of her cigarette glowed. "I'm just waging my own personal war, defending my space." She spoke louder and addressed her words directly to Quart. "When the time comes for me to die, I'll accept my end with a clear conscience. Like a soldier who surrenders only when he"s fired his last bullet. Having done my duty to the name I bear and to the things I love. That includes Our Lady of the Tears and Carlota's memory." (pg.241)

  30. 4 out of 5

    Ann

    La Piel Del Tambor A hacker who calls himself “Vespers” has hacked into the Pope’s email and sent him a message about a parish church in Seville that is in danger of being closed down, and which, so the message goes, “kills in order to defend itself”. So the Vatican sends out their own version of Agent 007, Father Lorenzo Quart. This unusual priest specializes in dealing with delicate matters involving the Church and its priests. Once arrived in Sevilla, he hears that the church of Our Lady of th La Piel Del Tambor A hacker who calls himself “Vespers” has hacked into the Pope’s email and sent him a message about a parish church in Seville that is in danger of being closed down, and which, so the message goes, “kills in order to defend itself”. So the Vatican sends out their own version of Agent 007, Father Lorenzo Quart. This unusual priest specializes in dealing with delicate matters involving the Church and its priests. Once arrived in Sevilla, he hears that the church of Our Lady of the Tears is indeed on the verge of being sold to the ambitious banker Pencho Gavira, who wants to tear it down and build luxury condos. The local archbishop, who, incidentally, is not a fan of Lorenzo Quart, is all in favor of the scheme, but the stubborn parish priest, Father Ferro, is fighting the sale. The influential old Duchess of Bruner and her daughter Macarena are also trying to preserve the church. The final wrinkle is added by the fact that Macarena is the estranged wife of Pencho Gavira, and seems to be going out of her way to provoke him, such as by having herself photographed leaving hotels with handsome toreadors at compromising hours. Into this hornets’ nest arrives Father Quart. He finds out that there have indeed been two mysterious deaths in the church, but satisfies himself that they were both accidents that can be ascribed to the dangerous state of neglect the church is currently in. But soon he is drawn into the web of intrigue that surrounds Our Lady of the Tears. He meets an American nun who is restoring the church, Gris Marsala. He becomes fascinated by Macarena, who tells him the romantic story of her great-aunt Carlota, who, forbidden to marry the commoner she loved, went mad with longing and was eventually buried in Our Lady of the Tears. But he cannot find out who Vespers is. In a parallel track, we follow the story of how Pencho Gavira delegates the job of dealing with the church and its obstinate priest to his sleazy assistant Peregil, who in turns enlists a trio of wannabe gangsters consisting of Don Ibrahim, a con man from the Caribbean, a brain-damaged former torero and boxer, and an alcoholic flamenco singer past her prime. This hapless trio bumbles around Sevilla following now Lorenzo Quart, now Father Ferro, now Macarena. Whether it’s forgetting to keep undeveloped film from sunlight, or getting burned by the kerosene intended for arson, these three luckless villains provided a lot of reading fun, especially Don Ibrahim, who seems to half-believe his own confabulations of hobnobbing with Fidel Castro, Ernest Hemingway and other luminaries of mid-century Cuba. A more sinister note is introduced by Honorato Bonafe, the unscrupulous editor of a local scandal rag who uses his considerable knowledge to blackmail various of the protagonists. It is this same Bonafe who is find murdered in a confessional, and this time there can be no doubt about there having been foul play. The first chapter of the book (a scene in the electronic control room of the Vatican, where tech-savvy priests monitor the cybersafety of the Vatican’s net) was very promising, but it was followed by a long middle part that seemed to consist largely of people examining their lives and beliefs in tedious details. Lorenzo Quart meditates numerous times about him being “a soldier of the Church”, Macarena expands on the fact that she fights for Our Lady of The Tears because she doesn’t want her great-aunt Carlota’s story to be forgotten, the old Duchess states calmly that the Spanish aristocracy is an anachronism, Father Ferro asserts his own uncompromising brand of Catholicism, Pencho Gavira reflects upon his unbridled ambition, etc. The only action is provided by the trio of Don Ibrahim and his two clueless helpers. It isn’t until the very end that the murder of Bonafe provides a real plot point, but since a confession is immediately obtained, the tension is not maintained. There is a twist on the very last page, but by then you’ve read 525 pages, so it’s a bit overdue. Still, I enjoyed the book. The gentle air of melancholy, of nostalgia for the greatness of 16th and 17th century Spain, for conquistadores, kings and dukes, appealed to me. I could almost smell the scent of orange blossoms, and feel the breezes over the river Quadalquivir as I followed the various characters during their nocturnal rambles (there’s a lot of walking about Sevilla at night in the book). Even though it took me a couple of weeks to finish the book, I kept on being drawn back to it, almost as if I was in a dream I wanted to return to.

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