The Seville Communion

This smart thriller (400 pages) was published in June of 2004 by HarperVia. The book takes you to Seville, Spain. Melissa read The Seville Communion and loved it; it wouldn't be on our site if she didn't recommend it.


The Seville Communion

Arturo Pérez-Reverte

The first few pages of this sexy thriller set in present-day Seville, Spain, hold great promise. There’s a hand-drawn map and a vintage photograph of the church at the heart of the mystery.

An author’s note reads, ‘Clerics, bankers, computer hackers, duchesses, and scoundrels — the characters in this novel are all imaginary. And any resemblance to real events is entirely coincidental. Only the setting is true. Nobody could invent a city like Seville.’

What follows is a suspenseful story that could only take place in Seville, a sun-drenched city first conquered by the Moors in 711. It’s now an appealing blend of hardcore history — Moorish, Gothic, and Renaissance architecture, twisty medieval alleys, flamenco — and a vibrant waterfront along the río Guadalquivir.

Although the real action takes place in Seville, the story opens in Vatican City. The Pope’s personal email has been infiltrated by a hacker known as Vespers to deliver a desperate plea for help saving a 17th-century church. The crumbling Our Lady of Tears has been scheduled for demolition, but the neighborhood has rallied to save it. And two people have died in the church under very mysterious circumstances.

The Vatican sends an investigator to find out what the devil is going on in Seville.

And that investigator is the fantastically flawed (and devilishly handsome) priest Father Lorenzo Quart. Driven more by discipline than faith, Quart is committed to the church, his vows, and solving the case. His internal monologue is as snappy as his wardrobe. Were it not for the priest’s collar, he could handily go toe to impeccably-shined toe with Philip Marlowe or Sam Spade.

As he works the clues, Quart mingles with a cast of intriguing suspects, including a duchess who’s just this side of being a femme fatale and a crooked trio composed of a washed-up boxer, a heartbroken flamenco singer, and a down-on-his-luck dandy who was one of the top lawyers in Seville until everyone found out that he wasn’t actually a lawyer.

In the guise of solving a murder mystery, this story explores the boundaries of loyalty, loneliness, and what people will do in the name of faith, both for good and for ill.

On his first morning in Seville it took Lorenzo Quart almost an hour to find the church. Several times he inadvertently wandered out of Santa Cruz and then had to find his way back. He realised his tourist map was useless in the maze of silent, narrow streets. Once or twice a passing car forced him to take refuge in cool, dark archways, their wrought-iron gates leading to tiled courtyards full of roses and geraniums. He came at last to a small square with white and ochre walls and railings hung with flowerpots. Tiled benches showed scenes from Don Quixote and there was an intense scent of orange blossom from the half-dozen trees. The church was small, its brick facade barely twenty metres across, and it formed a corner with another building. It looked in poor condition: the belfry was shored up by wooden struts, thick beams propped up the outer wall, and scaffolding partially obscured a tile depicting Christ, flanked by rusty iron lamps. — Arturo Pérez-Reverte

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