|Father Kevin Thrall
(creator: Peter J Tanous)
|Father Kevin Thrall is a 42 year old Jesuit priest who "looked older than his years. Already his chestnut hair was speckled with flecks of gray and his blue eyes were lined more than they should've been. He didn't mind. HIs six-foot, lean stature made him attractive to members of the opposite sex, which might have meant more to him if being in another line of work."
He is happy to be chaplain to a poor, inner-city school in Washington DC, but previous to ordination had worked for an elite military group under contract to the CIA. After killing a prisoner in Iraq, he had left his girlfriend Katie to become a priest, if a highly unusual one, as he had "mastered the military schools of cold-blooded combat, expert marksmanship, espionage and deception, cool-headedness in the face of danger, and the ability to kill as necessary." Despite all this, he could feel close to God and felt he had a special relationship with the Virgin Mary, who "directed his feelings, or chastised him for his wrongdoings." He sometimes wonders who he really is.
Peter J Tanous (c1939 - ) was awarded a B.A. in Economics from Georgetown University (and later an M.B.A. from the New York University Graduate School of Business) then, after a spell in the US army, spent his entire career in the field of finance and money management, becoming a highly successful New York career and investment banker. He is the author of Investment Gurus and similar books about money management. He has also written or co-written several novels including The Secret of Fatima (reviewed below).
The Secret of Fatima (2016)
The Secret of Fatima starts with the murder of Pope John Paul I (a real death that occurred in September 1978). Father Kevin Thrall is summoned to the Vatican by his successor as he seems uniquely suited for a dangerous mission that is directly tied to the mystery of a 100-year old prophecy that, one hundred years before, the Blessed Virgin had revealed to three Portuguese shepherd children. The written acount of the three Secrets of Fatima had been closely held by the Vatican for decades - but some pages are now missing, and Kevin is ordered to track them down.
The story gets off to a dramatic start that certainly grabs the interest, and there is plenty of action, including high-speed car chases and some exciting violent fights in which Kevin appears to be able to take on any number of adversaries. He does not seem have much trouble escaping from being kidnapped either. Another Pope gets murdered, so he is quite happy to use waterboarding to obtain essential information, after which he personally thwarts yet another attempt to murder a third Pope.
The plot grows increasingly absurd as we hear more about Opus Mundi, an ultra conservative Catholic secret society who are responsible for the Papal murders, as well as starting a war between Israel and Iran. Then there is Kevin's old pal Toby who lets him into CIA secrets as and when required. Soon Kevin's American Cardinal friend becomes the next Pope (even one of the characters has to admit, "This is incredible"). Then follow the determined efforts of a beautiful nun to seduce him, and there is even a photo, reproduced in the book, of the Virgin Mary appearing in a Coptic Church in Cairo. Similarly, there's a real photo of the actual tomb in Seville cathedral where the missing pages from the Fatima document are said to be hidden. It's a book that is certainly full of surprises!
The plot could be described as sub-Dan Brown and the violence is certainly overdone, with the final absurdity being the revelation that the new emissary (the Second Coming?) from God is actually a baby son that Kevin didn't even know he had had with his old girlfriend Katie. He concludes, "Perhaps my duty in life, and the reason I was called to the priesthood, was to protect the new emissary from God, be he Jesus or whoever he turns out to be. I want to stay close to Katie and the boy, and be there for them." Much of this seems plain silly, and it does not bode well for any further Kevin adventures that the author may be tempted to produce.
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|The cover benefits from professional design although the book is self-published (via Liberty Island Media Group).|