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5.0 out of 5 stars A fascinating story of the secrecy inside the Catholic Church. Thought provoking and thrilling.
A Counterfeit Priest by Paul Cross

Henry Hawkins, a filmmaker blames the Catholic Church for his wife's death. He decides to go undercover and secretly film a documentary on what he hopes to find, a scandal withing the church. He flies to Vatican City where he is going to receive help from a high ranking Cardinal, Silvio Coninti.

He doesn't count on...
Published 2 months ago by Sheri A. Wilkinson

versus
3.0 out of 5 stars A good story
3.5 stars
Religion can be a tricky and sensitive subject for many people, personally I can’t imagine the Vatican being dissimilar to any multi million dollar enterprise with the resulting politics, corruption and unscrupulousness in the ranks. Equally, I’m sure there are also those who do have a strong belief and a selflessness in what they are trying to...
Published 1 month ago by Cathy


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3.0 out of 5 stars A good story, 11 Aug 2014
By 
Cathy "Audiobook junkie!" (Ilminster, United Kingdom) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: A Counterfeit Priest (Kindle Edition)
3.5 stars
Religion can be a tricky and sensitive subject for many people, personally I can’t imagine the Vatican being dissimilar to any multi million dollar enterprise with the resulting politics, corruption and unscrupulousness in the ranks. Equally, I’m sure there are also those who do have a strong belief and a selflessness in what they are trying to achieve. This story will challenge spiritually and intellectually.

"How amazing, Henry thought, that all this magnificence he saw before him had nothing whatever to do with what Jesus taught, but for the sole purpose of wielding power over the masses, not to mention the pilfering of their money in order to hoard great wealth.Great wealth which was used by the self-appointed holy ones to live in magnificent splendour."

There’s a lot of very interesting behind the scenes action and fascinating insights into the inner processes of the Vatican, be they fact, fiction or a mixture of both, and the overall picture is described in detail. It’s a thought-provoking and believable scenario given the scandals and secrets of the Vatican and church in general through the ages and up to the present day.

The characters are intriguing and are portrayed well. Did Henry make the right decision after his eventual inner struggle whether or not he could or should voice his disappointment and disenchantment with the Catholic church and it’s teachings in his quest to avenge his wife’s death? It would be a tough call either way.

The mixture of past and present tense in the narrative is a little off-putting and that and the dialogue would benefit from some editing but, that said, it’s a very entertaining story.
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5.0 out of 5 stars A fascinating story of the secrecy inside the Catholic Church. Thought provoking and thrilling., 18 July 2014
By 
Sheri A. Wilkinson (Princeton, IL) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: A Counterfeit Priest (Kindle Edition)
A Counterfeit Priest by Paul Cross

Henry Hawkins, a filmmaker blames the Catholic Church for his wife's death. He decides to go undercover and secretly film a documentary on what he hopes to find, a scandal withing the church. He flies to Vatican City where he is going to receive help from a high ranking Cardinal, Silvio Coninti.

He doesn't count on the Pope dying and being trapped in Conclave as the Cardinals chose a new Pope. He secretly tapes the comings and goings in Vatican city, then has to decide what to do with the tapes. He is struggling with his inner feelings, morals, and memories of his wife and what she believed in.

A well written story of one mans inner struggles to right a wrong he has felt for years. Henry is a man who is trapped within himself, I could relate to his struggles. The accuracy of the proceedings when a Pope dies is fantastic. It was very interesting to read about the inside happenings of the church. I recommend this book to all, people of the Catholic faith will understand, those who are not will learn more about (The Catholic Church) it. A Counterfeit Priest is a must read!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Ambitious Novel of the Papal Conclave., 5 May 2014
By 
Tommy Dooley "Tom" (London, England) - See all my reviews
(TOP 100 REVIEWER)   
This review is from: A Counterfeit Priest (Kindle Edition)
Henry Hawkins is a film maker and after his wife dies under circumstances where her belief in the Catholic faith was pivotal - he decides to make a documentary about the workings of the Vatican. He manages to get an appointment with Silvio Contini who is the Secretary of State of the Vatican City and also head of the Vatican Bank.

Unfortunately he is not allowed in but then fate and a reporter lady conspire so that he is offered a chance to get into the heart of the Vatican, but he has to assume another identity. Once there he gets an exclusive post and ends up being in the inner sanctum for a papal conclave after the Pope suddenly dies. Once inside he has to deal with a whole manner of obstacles to be able to get at the essential truth and in so doing hope to find some rationale for why his wife had to die.

This is an ambitious story in that it deals with part of the Catholic World that not many know about and religion is always a tricky subject matter. However Paul Cross has done some impressive homework and research which all add to the authenticity of the story. However this is also an adaptation of the screenplay and I think it suffers for it. There are over wordy descriptions of routes taken and what amount to stage directions for part of the story. Also the actual events require one to make a bit of a leap of faith and considering the subject matter, that is probably a bit too much.

The copy I received in exchange for a review is not a Proof and yet it also contains many spelling mistakes such as `fool hearty' instead of `fool hardy' and `myocardial infection' instead of `myocardial infarction' and I hate to say it but that sort of thing really puts me off; I stopped making notes after the fifth example. Cross can clearly write and can weave a story but I felt this could have benefitted from the keen eye of an editor and as such I found the book to be just OK - hence my rating.
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4.0 out of 5 stars SCREENPLAY IN DISGUISE, 30 April 2014
By 
DAVID BRYSON (Glossop Derbyshire England) - See all my reviews
(TOP 500 REVIEWER)    (VINE VOICE)    (REAL NAME)   
This review is from: A Counterfeit Priest (Kindle Edition)
[This is a review of the paperback edition]

This might almost be called a counterfeit novel, so long as that term is not understood in any bad or disparaging sense. Paul Cross’s background is in documentaries and feature films, and I found that the best way to read this book is as a screenplay slightly modified to resemble an ordinary novel. It is a very good and very readable story, but anyone who tries to experience it as ‘literature’ would miss the point in my opinion. Worse, he or she might not get the enjoyment out of it that is there for the taking. It has also been noted that the book as we have it is in some need of subediting. While this is very true, I have simply ignored the matter in awarding my own star-rating. When books are issued for review on the Vine it is emphasised to reviewers that they are early prints and not to be criticised as if they were the finished article. I have treated A Counterfeit Priest in the same way for fairness, but be aware you have a certain amount of your own textual criticism to do to arrive at the proper text in places.

Also note that there are some misleading statements in the editorial reviews. I shall not give away any parts of the plot that the editorials have not told us already, but you should know that the film-maker ‘hero’ starts by seeking an interview with a senior cardinal at the Vatican to try to make sense of the institution for whose doctrines his late wife was prepared to give up her life. Bureaucracy gets in the way, so he adopts stratagems that are roughly as believable as a James Bond film. He infiltrates the Vatican, gets into deeper water than he bargained for, and ends up with deeper questions to ponder than he had been expecting either.

The story starts from the resignation of Benedict XVI and takes its own fictional course from there. The best phrase in the entire book is the description of the Catholic Church as ‘a unique theo-political entity’. How close the characterisation of the fictional cardinals and other clergy is to real modern life I have no way of knowing, but if the history of the church from mediaeval times is anything to go by I suspect it may not be far off the mark. It makes a good story without much enhancement, but it prompts a good few deeper thoughts, some of which the author discusses explicitly, others of which the reader may find difficult to avoid, whatever the author intended. The new Pope leaves the hero with the conundrum of whether to blow the whistle on what he has seen or whether to hold back on disclosure because of the deep reliance that many, not least his own late wife, have placed on an institution that purports to be the mouthpiece of God.

The reader is thus brought up against the basic thought that for any organisation, or any person, to be the mouthpiece of God there needs really to be a God for any of them to be the mouthpiece of. ‘Faith’ and belief don’t settle that issue: even assuming that there is a Creator of the cosmos, what is His connexion with bibles, scriptures generally, prophets and the rest of it? One does not need to contemplate the cosmos for long, it seems to me, for the thought to dawn that moral teaching, however inspiring, is a humanity-based thing. Such as it is we have worked it out for ourselves, and any claim that it represents the will of such a Creator is an awfully big claim, something close to outright blasphemy. Far from humanity being God’s special creation, I have to infer that God is a human invention, assigned his own semi-scripted part in the thoughts and actions of the dramatis personae of the Vatican.

Back to the story as the author leaves it, I suppose it is topical in view of the actions of Mr Assange, Mr Snowden, Mr/Ms Manning and no doubt others. Paul Cross seems (if I understand him) to come down on the side of the need for confidentiality, but with reservations. I don’t suppose I can do better than that. To side with Assange and co risks outright irresponsibility. On the other had if it were Assange vs Dick Cheney, who would you rather be seen with? Go figure.
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A Counterfeit Priest
A Counterfeit Priest by Paul Cross
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