“Holy Predator” by Deborah Stevens is a highly entertaining thriller with action that will keep one guessing throughout the course of its 333 pages. Beginning with a quote from Romans 1:22,23, “Professing themselves to be wise, they became fools…” the novel begins with the thoughts of a powerful, but deeply flawed man.
Luciano Bonelli grew up in a life of wealth, but gave it up to become a priest. Somewhere along the way, he sold his soul to the devil. As the superior general of the Jesuits, this has undeniable conflicts and consequences. His noble intentions have been replaced by a life of money laundering, control and power. Given the historical background of the Catholic Church, this gives readers another issue to contemplate. In that, many may agree that the author’s story may not be all that far-fetched.
Without giving away too much, Alonso Garibaldi Poggiani, head of the Vatican Bank is found dead and in a controversial shocking manner. A stickler for financial scrutiny at the highest level of Vatican affairs, his death creates questions that seem to end in riddles. The historic inscrutability of the Church leadership reveals only faint cracks in its veneer. Early on, the author grabs the reader’s attention and doesn’t let go. She has developed a great plot that makes for a thought-provoking read.
“Holy Predator” is packed with intriguing characters, ranging from young priests recruited to hide information, to family members at opposite ends of the moral spectrum, who still seek more power and money. From Sicily to Rome, vivid descriptions of locations and specific places add to the landscape that has been painted in words. Within the labyrinth of deception and secrecy are three people who become bent on determining the facts, or in this case, the multiple versions of the truth.
The characters in “Holy Predator” are well thought out and developed. Each one has a specific goal and the author has done an excellent job in her research. She is engaging and accurate in her description of famous paintings and architectural landmarks and brings into the story many curiously connected, little-known facts. The descriptions of the churches, hidden tunnels and secret code of instructions are great additions to the book and add immeasurably to the read. Those who have even a passing acquaintance with the Italian language will also appreciate the author’s deft use of phrases and exclamations that bring an undeniable authenticity to the novel. Religious themes are skillfully woven into the story, leaving readers with sense of watching a drama unfolding behind the closed doors of the Vatican.
“Holy Predator” will undoubtedly be a favorite for readers who love a twisty, intricate plot and predictability is never an issue in the novel. To fully appreciate the layers of the book is to understand each character and the role he or she plays in the plot. Even the secondary characters have something to offer.
This thriller can sit comfortably on the shelf beside works of Dan Brown, whose books involving murder and powerful religious themes have long topped the bestseller lists. In her latest work, Deborah Stevens has created a story that raises questions about the workings of the Vatican and while it is a work of fiction, there are plenty of relevant historical elements, including the resignation of Pope Benedict XVI and the election of a Jesuit as the new Pope. The intrigue is powerful and the suspense is exacting. The short chapters also help to make this book a compelling read.
About the Author
Deborah Stevens is a native of Detroit, Michigan and now lives in Minnesota. She majored in Interior Design and her interest in the arts and to detail are evident in both her debut novel, “The Serpent’s Disciple” and the second in the series, “Holy Predator.” The Serpent’s Disciple has been honored with multiple awards including The Pinnacle Book Achievement Award for Best Thriller, A Book Excellence Award, an American Fiction Award for Best Religious Thriller and was a finalist in the Best Book Awards and International Book Awards for Religious Fiction. Deborah has traveled extensively to Europe, Mexico, Hawaii and the Caribbean and has a soft spot for her ancestral home of Italy. Her books are available on Amazon, Barnes and Noble and major book sellers.