Israeli Spy Chief Gabriel Allon is on vacation in Venice with his wife and two young children when his friend, the reform-minded Pope Paul VII, dies suddenly. The Holy Father’s private secretary, Archbishop Luigi Donati, suspects foul play and summons Allon to the Vatican. What follows is a hunt for truth and justice.
The Swiss Guard who was standing watch outside the papal apartments the night of the pope’s death is missing. So, too, is the letter the Holy Father was writing during the final hours of his life. A letter addressed to Gabriel.
As the cardinals gather for the papal conclave, Allon investigates the murder and uncovers a vast conspiracy. He unearths the long-suppressed Gospel of Pontius Pilate, a text that challenges the traditional narrative of Jesus’s crucifixion in which the blame is put on the Romans rather than the long-condemned Jews. This revelation doesn’t sit well with a shadowy far-right Catholic group known as The Order, and it is determined to keep this explosive book hidden.
The Order is my least favorite of the Allon books thus far. It is Daniel Silva’s third novel about a murderous Catholic conspiracy, a formula that has grown stale. He needs a new villain. The book may offend some Catholic readers. It is full of corrupt clergy and refers to Church scandals over the ages. Silva notes his book is fiction and there’s no Gospel by Pontius Pilate. However, he argues the Church is responsible for much of Christian anti-Semitism.
Unfortunately, The Order lacked the tension and unpredictability I expect from the Gabriel Allon series. It reminded me too much of Dan Brown’s DaVinci Code. In the end, I give it a modest 3 stars. If you’re a die-hard fan of the series, it’s still worth a read for the sake of continuity, but don’t expect the same level of excitement as in the previous nineteen books.