The Secret Cardinal is an exciting and interesting story that's a definite step up from many of the
other suspense books out there. Author Tom Grace focuses on two main threads: an attempt to rescue a Chinese bishop from a long incarceration in prison in China, and the events taking place in the Vatican as a new pope is being chosen.
American Nolan Kilkenny is still trying to come to terms with the death of his wife and unborn child. A close family friend invites him to work for him at the Vatican, and very soon Kilkenny finds himself involved in a plot to tell the world about the fate of Yin Daoming, an imprisoned Chinese bishop. Kilkenny's skills are vital to
the plan to rescue Yin, and with the death of the pope, who had made Yin a secret Cardinal, the pressure is on to rescue the man.
As the various cardinals meet to choose the new pope, Kilkenny and his group of special forces operatives break Yin out of prison and try to extract him from China to Rome. The action is always well-paced and mostly believable,
making for an exciting read.
Grace isn't particularly strong on descriptive passages; although parts of The Secret Cardinal take place in China, Tibet and India,
the reader doesn't get a particularly strong picture of the various settings. The portrayal of
Roman Catholicism is rather one-sided; almost everyone mentioned in the story is a holy and worthy person who is resistant to torture and willing to be martyred - quite a contrast from most
such books, where people's motives are always suspect. It's refreshing to read a book with a positive view of faith, but it's laid on a bit thick.
Those who have enjoyed other books by this author will no doubt welcome this
one. It is indeed a good read, if at times quite depressing about the state of the world and China's hostility toward people of faith.