If your literary tastes run exclusively to fast-paced, clearly-written thrillers without a good deal of interwoven subplots and an impressively diverse cast of characters, give The Holy Bullet a pass. If, however, you are as fond of evocative descriptive writing as you are of clandestine plots involving the Roman Catholic Church –- and really, who isn’t fascinated by a bit of Vatican-spiced intrigue? –- you’ll find much to admire in this follow-up to Mr. Rocha’s The Last Pope, an account of the conspiracy lying beneath the 1981 attempted assassination of Pope John Paul II.
The Holy Bullet digs deeper into the hidden plots and treacheries of the shadowy figures in the upper echelons of the Catholic hierarchy. Incorporating everything from a female British journalist to a Muslim who has visions of Christ’s mother Mary to a priest who, conveniently, doubles as an assassin, it seems, at times, as if Mr. Rocha has created a story that threatens to collapse under its own weight. However, the cool, intricately constructed prose prevents the byzantine plot from being too annoying. The Da Vinci Code this is not; but it’s an intriguing tale in its own right.