Reviewed by A.R.K. Watson
A Pius Man is one of those books that have been on my radar for some time, it’s advertisements promising me a “Dan Brown-esque thriller” except with accurate Catholic history and doctrine.
(I’m still not over the Brown’s nun who had an IVF procedure—come on man, a quick Google search would’ve told that’s a no-no!). Much like a lot of advertisements the real thing doesn’t quite live up to its promises. A Pius Man is not a Dan Brown novel—it’s so much more hilarious than that. While this book might be light on historical intrigue it makes up for it in humor and action. The book starts with a nefarious priest, a diabetic scholar shot through the chest and an assassin who gets blown out the window landing on our heroes’ car. And this is maybe five minutes into the novel.
A new controversial Sudanese pope has been elected at the start of our novel. He’s already courting plenty of danger by taking on dictatorships in Sudan, China, and North Korea, but things get out of control when he announces his plans to bring Pope Pius XII, aka “Hitler’s Pope” up for Sainthood. To protect the new pope, the head of Vatican security assembles a team to protect him, including American mercenary, and hyper-Irish trickster, Sean Ryan. In fact, the author seems to have a thing for feisty Irish in this book. I counted at least four.
If this book has a weak point though it’s the historical intrigue. Any Catholic who knows their history of Pope Pius XII won’t be surprised by the “revelation” at the end but they won’t be bored either. The political intrigue among the many spies and international agents from Mossed, Russia, Ireland, America, and Egypt provide plenty to keep you guessing. I’m usually good at guessing the culprit in books but it took me at least two to three tries before I figured it out, and then the dread kicked in once I did realize whom the traitor in the group was. The other weak point is the characterization of the women characters. While they are given a reasonable depth and none are passive damsels this still remains a world in which all are introduced by their hotness level, and two out of three are introduced by their breast size. Even other heterosexual women seem hyper-aware of the hotness of the others. Luckily the story doesn’t dwell on it for too long. Just be prepared for some Bond-women tropes, except two out of three of said woman do get decent character arcs.
I wouldn’t necessarily recommend this book to Dan Brown fans but Jason Bourne and Simon Pegg fans will be all over this book. Hijinks and fight scenes abound at every corner. There is even a fight scene with halberds—you know those long pole axes the Swiss Guard carries. It was really hard to keep from laughing out loud while reading that in public.
Author’s website: http://www.declanfinn.com/