I’m not sure how I ended up checking The Last Cato out from the library. I had a note in the back of the little notebook I carry around with a book-reading possibilities list about it from somewhere. It was listed as similar to The Da Vinci Code which is only true on a very high level. There was a search to find a religious relic and a lot about the Catholic church, but that is where the similarities end.
The main character is a nun who works in the Vatican archives as a researcher/restorer of artifacts and relics. From that background she gets swept up with a captain of the Swiss Guard and another researcher from Egypt in pursuit of a relic of the cross that Christ was crucified on (supposedly… who can say where these relics really came from?). In order to find what they need they find themselves playing the role of Dante from The Divine Comedy and facing the seven trials of purgatory. (Side note: this is the second book in the last year that I’ve read that used Dante as the basis for the plot, maybe its time I read the original.)
The book is by Matilde Asensi, a Spanish author, and this is her first book translated into English. The one aspect of the book that I found might have been lost in translation is the fact that Spain is a Catholic country and I am not Catholic. I’m fairly familiar with the Catholic church since many of my friends and family are, but while many things were explained in the book, there seemed to be an assumption on the part of the reader that they would understand certain things. Such as the titles of people in the church hierarchy, different festivals, or things about saints and relics. It didn’t really detract from my reading, but it just felt like I might be missing out on some additional level of understanding.
Not that this was a terribly deep book. The obligatory there-are-two-guys-and-one-girl-there-will-be-some-romantic-entanglement plot line was pretty obvious even when the author tried to throw you off for a bit. The very end of the book was a bit predictable, however the end of the search was not what I was expecting at all. It was very fantastic in the “fantastic voyages” sense.
I found it to be an entertaining read.