Adventure abounds in this pulse-pounding tribute to classic caper yarns. All the usual suspects have been rounded up and plopped between the pages. There’s the handsome and brilliant, steely-nerved, American thief who is pursued by the world-weary and unrelenting Interpol agent. There’s the strikingly beautiful, young, and vivacious love-interest who is equally skilled racing through the woods astride a charging steed or completing backward somersaults atop a balance beam. There's an idealistic Priest, a crafty Cardinal, and a vulnerable Pope. There are loyal sidekicks, heinous villains, dastardly conspirators, and of course there is the biggest score imaginable—the Vatican.
Gallant displays a realistic familiarity with the countryside, villages, and cities of Italy, as well as a seemingly encyclopedic knowledge of the most famous piece of real estate in the Catholic Church’s domain. He compellingly interweaves enticing information about the Vatican’s physical properties, security procedures, and treasure holdings, with the interlopers’ strategy and tactics for looting the place.
The essence of the plot, of course, involves absconding with some of the fabulous wealth from the Holy See. While that is indeed the central axis on which this tale spins, the author has done a skillful job of layering the potential theft with subplots involving conspiracies, revenge, redemption, and more. The intricacies of the heist itself are made even more involving with frequent tussles, scuffles, and gun battles whose excitement level overshadows occasionally overwrought dialogue. This is a fun read for those who like their escapism with a healthy dollop of derring-do.