May 23rd, 2016
The Short Take:
This departure from Buckley’s usual fare was delightful fun, with a dash of history thrown in. It’s a madcap robbery plot set in the Holy Roman Empire, circa 1517, with action, romance, plot twists, and a lot of Buckley’s trademark satire.
This telling bit is from Buckley’s bio in this book: “Christopher Buckley is the author of 16 previous books, many of them satires on contemporary politics. During the 1916 election cycle, he concluded that American politics were sufficiently self-satirizing and decided to venture backward in time to a more innocent, less cynical era and place, like, say, the sixteenth century Holy Roman Empire…”
That should give you a good idea of the tone of this book. While Marin Luther never appears, his Ninety-Five Theses form the backdrop of the story, which centers on purchases of saintly relics and sales of indulgences to shorten time in Purgatory — both thriving businesses at the time.
As usual, Buckley finds absurdity on every side. In fact, it feels like he had more fun than usual with this unsacred quest. In his novels with contemporary settings there is always a disturbing undercurrent. Going back 500 years freed him of that.
Mistral is the official relic purchaser for two powerful men who are vying with each other for the biggest collection. In a crooked business, he’s always tried to be honest and is now planning to retire. However, a drastic change in his finances leads him to consider creating a forged relic — the burial shroud of Christ. Outrageous mayhem ensues.
For more about Christopher Buckley, click here.