The Last Cato

I find it very difficult not to finish any book I start no matter how horrid it may be.  However, I must admit that I have been unable to finish 2 books this  year.  I’m not going to count them in my finished book total (naturally since I didn’t finish them), but I did want to post about the few books that I could not bring myself to finish to spare you, dear readers, from making the same mistake I did.

The Last Cato by Matilde Asensi is about a nun who works in the Vatican as a paleographer.  She is called in to investigate strange scars found on a dead man who was found with shards from what is believed to be the True Cross.  Sister Ottavia finds herself embroiled in intrigue, hunting down an ancient sect of guardians of the True cross along with a member of the Swiss Guards and a Egyptian professor.  Apparently Dante’s Divine Comedy–specifically Purgatory, the middle section–hold clues as to the location of this sect and the True Cross.

Sounds very interesting, doesn’t it?  And it was written in 2001, well before The Da Vinci Code and its subsequent imitators.  Unfortunately, it was unreadable.  I managed to get to around page 150 before throwing in the towel.  It was originally written in Spanish and translated, so I like to believe that some of the problems I had were caused by a poor translation.  The other possibility is that it was just as sucky in Spanish as it is in English. 

Sister Ottavia is annoying.  Apparently only she could possibly have the right answer.  She looks down on her partner, the member of the Swiss Guards.  I guess the fact that he has only 2 master’s degrees to her (too-often emphasized) many doctoral degrees makes him an idiot.  The professor is nice but kind of a confusing character.  The language is weird.  The dialogue seems stilted, and the plot was difficult to follow.

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