|Father Thomas Kelly
(creator: Sam Cabot)
|Father Thomas Kelly is an American Jesuit scholar who enjoyed teaching undergraduates "feeding happily off their enthusiasm and interest" as "his own student days were barely a decade behind him." He is in his early thirties and based at Heythrop College in London to where he had moved from Boston 7 years before. He had been "a rangy Irish redhead" who had been called to the priesthood when he had found "something still and silent" and a peace, "a sense of being home", at Mass. "He'd been an exemplary seminarian" and had gone on to happily explore obscure byways of Church history, although he had proved a clumsy pastoral counsellor." But then, 8 years ago, he had had a crisis of faith and had been helped by his old tutor Lorenzo Cossa. It is Lorenzo who, now promoted to Cardinal, involves Kelly in the extraordinary events described below.
Sam Cabot is a pseudonym used by Carlos Dews and S. J. Rozan.
Blood of the Lamb (2013)
Thomas tries to explain to Livia that 'People were not meant to live on this earth for ever. Only through death can man achieve eternal life." But when Livia retorts,"Do you say that to the doctors at your hospitals? The ones who stop people from dying every day?", "Thomas felt the firm ground slipping." The authors obviously think she has made a significant point, but they seem rather out of their depth when trying to explain Christian theology.
Although it is certainly inventive, a bigger load of nonsense would be hard to find! Livia's mission to join the Jesuit priest on his search because one mistake could destroy her fellow vampires, is not one we are likely to care about - unless, of course, we are Noantri too. For, according to the authors, Noantri are to be found everywhere although it seems just a little odd that no-one notices that they live for ever, even though, as Livia explains, they can "stay away for years and change our identities before we return." Famous Noantri, we are told, have included Bram Stoker, Jan van Eyck, St Cecilia, Nefertiti, Methuselah, Mary Magdalene and even Jesus! It gets sillier and sillier.
The story gets off to a confusing start with an unnecessary flashback to 1849/50 and either the gremlins (or, more likely, the vampires) have got into the publication process with the result that odd sentences suddenly bob up in bold type. It is not at all clear why. Thomas himself protests, "This isn't happening. This isn't real." How right he is! Even the Pontifex (the chief priest of the Nuanti) turns out to have been Lazarus!
The one strength of the book lies in Dews' detailed knowledge of the Trastavere district and the churches and statues of Rome, which he puts to good effect in Thomas and Livia's treasure hunt from one to another of them as they search for missing pages of a poem that offers them clues as to the whereabouts of the missing Concordat - but interest flags as this goes on and on.
This is intended as the first of a series of books featuring Father Thomas and Livia (who are getting to be an increasingly close couple) - but I shall not be reviewing any more of them. Let's hope the vampires don't get me!
|The cover is enigmatic. The plot is plain silly.|