Snapshots - #37: It, Breathe, Mark Felt – The Man Who Brought Down the White House

It (2017), (♦♦♦♦): Four inseparable friends in middle school bond with other three newcomers. They all have in common that they are bullied by the same people. Over the course of one summer they'll fend off bullies and face a centuries-old demon in the form of a clown, named Pennywise, whom has been disappearing kids and terrorizing the town of Derry, Maine, every twenty-seven years since the town was founded.
Based on Stephen King's novel of the same title, It is a movie with a smart script and a sympathetic ensemble of nerds that deliver light humor, and deep thrills. It doesn't hurt that each and every character has his or her own arc, thus one gets to know their motivations and fears before Pennywise enters head on into the picture.
In a nod to 1980s movie classics such as The Goonies, and the Brat Pack ensemble, the newest adaptation of It takes place at the end of that decade, when it seems, at least from the Hollywood perspective, that every kid harbored a genius insi…

The Confessor by Daniel Silva (♦♦♦½)

Gabriel Allon is in Venice, under the name Mario Delvecchio, restoring Bellini’s Madonna in the Church of San Zaccaria, when he is summoned by Ari Shamron to a secret rendezvous in the Ghetto Nuovo. Once again Gabriel is called to action when he learns that Benjamin Stern, a colleague from his early days in the Office, has been assassinated arguably by Neo Nazis.

Gabriel puts the restoration of the Madonna aside and travels to Munich where Stern lived and meets with the detective in charge of the investigation. As he inspects the apartment and the offensive graffiti left behind by the assassin, Gabriel realizes that the killer is a professional who has taken precautions to take all incriminating evidence from the house.

Gabriel further learns that Benjamin Stern had been writing a book before his untimely death; a book whose subject may be crucial to unlock the identity of his killer or killers and their motives. As it turns out, Stern had been working on a book relating the actions of Vatican’s officials during the Second World War. As Gabriel’s investigation unfolds and leads him away from Munich and Venice, he comes in possession of incriminating documents against authorities in the Vatican’s Secretary of State during WWII.

In his quest for the truth, Gabriel will cross paths with a secret society in the Catholic Church-- one whose members will stop at nothing to silence those who deviate from their doctrines-- and with a legendary assassin who will do that society’s bidding for the right price.

I liked The Confessor, though not as much as I’ve liked most of the later books in the series, or the first two. I understand why this book’s non-fictional background is less stirring than those in his other books and the reason is the institutional silence of the Church in those matters, which makes almost impossible to discern the whole facts.

In The Confessor, we are introduced for the first time to His Holiness Pope Paul VII and his private secretary Luigi Donati, characters that will re-appear in the later installment The Fallen Angel. In The Confessor, His Holiness Paul VII is tormented by grief and begs Jews for forgiveness for the sins of Catholics that allowed the Holocaust to run its course. The life of the pope is threatened from the inside by members of a secret society with long financial and political connections. Gabriel Allon is the man asked to protect His Holiness.

I was distracted way too much during my reading of The Confessor for several reasons: 1) It is somewhat cliché: overly ambitious clergymen plotting to checkmate their master (not that it hasn’t happened!); 2) It introduces characters from a later installment which kept me thinking about what happened in the other book; 3) The Confessor is generally speaking similar to the book Lazarus by Morris West, which is, in my opinion, a far more accomplished book than this one by Daniel Silva.

In summary, The Confessor by Daniel Silva is entertaining though a little cliché. Recommended reading for Catholics; it will make them think regardless of whether they’re hard core Catholics or “cafeteria” ones.

Also recommended, Lazarus by Morris West