San Ramon, California (EastBayDaily) — What would happen inside the Vatican if the cardinals of the Catholic Church suddenly realized that they had elected a revolutionary? In his debut novel, Ronald Bruce Gies uses the mystery genre as a vehicle to explore issues of the Catholic Church in the modern world. If there are two things that people don't discuss in polite company, Ayn Rand took politics and Ron Gies took religion.
Gies wasn't looking for controversy and certainly didn't expect his novel's release to accompany the first papal resignation in 600 years. "I couldn't have possibly anticipated this amazing timing. I wrote the story because it's been rattling around my head for years and I finally committed to putting it on paper. I am an avid lover of mystery and suspense novels and so it was natural to use that vehicle." He even created a "Papal Archive" of correspondence where the Appendix should go, so that readers could refer to the sermons and letters that form the backstory.
As his story unfolds, readers come to find out that the pope didn't suffer a stroke, but rather has been poisoned. This main character, Pope John XXIV, is a homage to Pope John XXIII, who was the last pope to turn from caretaker to revolutionary – instituting Vatican II as well as a review of contraception. In the novel, he must rely on his long-time friend, the head of the Vatican Police as well as an American FBI agent to help discover what's really going on inside the Vatican.
The book details some unique locations within the Vatican and even follows the papal entourage on a tour of America. Many of the locations take readers behind the scenes of unique places, including the Papal Apartments. The author shared, "Easily my favorite scene is one in which the pope takes a long-time friend on a surprise visit to the Sistine Chapel. He wanted to share the experience of stumbling upon a group of tourists, allowing him to feel for a moment what it must be like to walk in the pontiff's shoes."
"I didn't want the book to draw negative Catholic images that many believe were popularized by Dan Brown's novels," Gies said. "Rather, I wanted to create dialogue between characters that explored issues in a well-rounded way. Hopefully, my readers will agree that I have done that. Of course, an engaging mystery novel must have some excitement not typically associated with a two-thousand year old institution."
Ron Gies is a "cradle Catholic." Educated in the Catholic school system – elementary through high school – he came to appreciate the wonderful attributes of the Church, its faithful, and the amazing men and women who serve them. Ron is a busy husband and father of three. In addition to planning the next book in the Vatican Series, he is currently working on the outline of a second and very different mystery series.
The Time Keepers: A Vatican Novel is being published through Create Space, a unit of Amazon.com.