Arch and knowing books are, thankfully, not a dime a dozen, but Jef Geeraerts's The Public Prosecutor is one such. Geeraerts doesn't have much time for organised religion, I gather from this fable, or for money-grubbing men or women, most of whom end up perishing in some gruesome fashion or the other. The protagonist of this parody of the paranoid thriller genre is the Public Prosecutor of Antwerp, a man who owes his position to his wife's noble family. He leads the usual life of an alpha male - he has a beautiful young mistress; his wealth does not stop him from seeking more; and, of course, he detests his wife, and hardly has any time for his sons. The wife is a deeply religious Catholic who wants one of her sons to enter Opus Dei, the usual villain in books involving religious skullduggery, and to that end is willing to sacrifice everything, including her husband. There are other unsavoury Opus Dei operatives with connections at the highest reaches of power - both financial and administrative - and there are sundry criminals out for revenge. None of the characters has any redeeming qualities but the Prosecutor, harried and hassled, ends up being strangely sympathetic. This is so earnest a book I cannot imagine Geeraerts wasn't grinning ironically all the while he was writing it; good fun.