Like most people (or so I suspect), I listened to this book after The Da Vinci Code, even though it was written earlier and takes place earlier. I can't understand why this earlier effort didn't win Brown the acclaim he deserves as a great mystery/thriller author. As with The Da Vinci Code, the Catholic Church is involved, and as with The Da Vinci Code, not all of the Vatican officials behave in a way that reflects glory and honor upon the Church and her Lord. But that's life, not just for the Church but for any large body of imperfect human beings.
The plot in this work is a bit less esoteric than in The Da Vinci Code, but in my view that strengthens the book as a work of literature, because the themes (science and religion, faith and knowledge, and perhaps most importantly, truth versus the avoidance of scandal) aren't upstaged by the brain-teasers.
I would like to warn off two classes of potential readers/listeners. First, if you are the sort of person who cannot distinguish between fictional background and historical fact, please don't buy this book. The world will be better off with fewer people making spiritual decisions (like whether to be a Catholic) based on plot lines in a piece of fiction. If you really think the sins of long-dead cardinals are relevant to your religious affiliation today, then at least learn about those sins from reliable works of history rather than a whodunnit.
Second, if you are the sort of person who can't bear to imagine, even hypothetically, that the Communion of Saints includes some very great sinners, and you're offended by any portrayal of a sin by a man of the cloth, please don't buy this book. Christians who place themselves in the latter category should probably spend more time reading the New Testament and paying attention to how unimpressively the Twelve acquitted themselves when God walked among them.
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