Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Caravaggio Conspiracy by Walter Ellis

I've just started reading this book and wish I hadn't. Don't get me wrong, there's nothing wrong with it, in fact I love it, and there's the problem. You see I'm thinking this would have made a perfect 'reading in the Christmas holidays' book, when you can curl up in the chair uninterrupted and read for several hours at a stretch. But I've started it now- and can't put it down!

Set in the early 1600s, when Caravaggio was painting and in the near future on the death of a Pope, the characters are skillfully drawn and you are swept into the story from the start. In Rome, the Pope has died and the primates are gathered together to elect a new one. But the Muslim faith is encroaching on Europe and there is some dissent about what exactly the role of the church is in modern day. Meanwhile, Caravaggio (real name Michelangelo Merisi) is painting a new commission and discussing the reception of his other works with his reclining naked model, a twenty-year-old courtesan. The book has all the required ingredients of a page-turner; sex, conspiracy theories, mysterious deaths, religious plots and the too-ing and fro-ing between times from the 15th century to the unspecified future. The unassuming hero is Declan O'Malley, an Irish Jesuit and his nephew Liam Dempsey who follow the clues to unravel a plot. Of course, the fact that the story draws on Caravaggio's lost masterpiece The Betrayal of Christ, which hangs in The National Gallery of Ireland in Dublin and which any regular visitor will be familiar with, helps to stoke our interest but this aside it is a great read and one that will be keeping me up late for the next couple of days.

N.B. Walter Ellis the author has just emailed me commenting on the difficult availability of this book, and so if you like the sound of it you might try contacting the publishers directly. 

The Caravaggio Conspiracy is published by The Lilliput Press.

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