I must admit that thrillers with a religious scenario are not the sorts of books that I seek out, so DEAD BISHOPS DON'T LIE by André K. Baby would not be a book that I'd normally give a second glance. When offered by the author for review purposes, I did stop and think about it, and there was something about the blurb of the book that appealed. Probably the "caustic investigator" idea - being a declared fan of the less than perfect central protagonist.
Set in the European environments of Switzerland, Italy and Russia, with a touch of the exotic in the Caribbean, the gruesome murders of two archbishops seem to be related by the hidden meaning in the way that the killings were done, as well as the messages left by the murderers. Investigator Thierry Dulac, dry, acerbic, controlled and measured, is put in charge of the international investigation, and in turn he looks to an expert in mythology and symbolism for help in decoding the killer's cryptic messages.
Of course in this sort of thriller, you expect a big conspiracy, and in religious thrillers I doubt there's any more obvious source of that threat than the Vatican, the Code of Silence, and lurking Cardinal's influence. Toss in a bit of Russian past and present menace, a British Marchioness with some out there sexual habits and something that she seems to be hiding, and you're well into the realms of the money, the influence and the power.
Rule number 1 with these sorts of thrillers is that there must be a good sense of pace and action. It's a bonus if you can get some good, believable, realistic characters built into that. It's a bigger bonus if there's a good sense of place and the occasional bit of exotic as well. In the main, Baby's settings and characters are really good, the reader really gets a feel for each of the locations in this book, and a chance to connect with all of the major characters. The baddies were nicely lurking and threatening, without stepping that narrow line into cartoonish. There are a few problems with some the pacing at points in the book, and a couple of extraneous scenes that perhaps could have been dumped to get the action and pace of the book moving forward quickly, but really, once the scene is set, the story is very engaging.
If, like me, you're a bit wary of this sort of thriller, it would be worth swallowing the reticence and giving DEAD BISHOPS DON'T LIE a go.