Cradle and All By: James Patterson
In Ireland, another young woman discovers she is in the same impossible condition.
And in cities all around the world, medical authorities are overwhelmed by epidemics, droughts, famines, floods, and worse. It all feels like a sign that something awful is coming.
Anne Fitzgerald, a former nun turned private investigator, is hired by the Archdiocese of Boston to investigate the immaculate conceptions. Even as she comes to care about and trust the young women, she realizes that both are in great danger. Terrifying forces of light and darkness are gathering. Stepping into uncharted territory where the unknown is just the beginning, Anne must discover the truth--to save the young women, to save herself, and to protect the future of all mankind.
James Patterson's Cradle and All pits the intensity of faith against the certainties of science within an arena of Millennial tensions. A reworking of his 1980 apocalyptic thriller Virgin, this remodeled version boasts a genuinely unnerving premise, amplified with Patterson's fast-paced, uncluttered prose.
In the midst of a series of unexplained plagues and famines, two teenage girls are heavily pregnant, despite being virgins. According to the sacred prophecies of Fatima, one will bear the child of Christ and the other, the spawn of Satan. Both Anne Fitzgerald, a former nun turned private detective, and the Vatican's Father Rosetti are sent to investigate. But which girl carries which child? The possibility of a miracle will be tainted with great suffering before the awful, unexpected truth is revealed. As the action moves speedily from the hallowed halls of the Vatican to the media frenzy of America to the small-town hysteria of Ireland, Patterson divines considerable suspense from the novel's central premise, tackling issues of faith with admirable aplomb:
"All over the world, after all the years of difficulty, decades of diminishing spirituality, so many people still believed.... Everywhere, people talked of the Apocalypse, perhaps the end of the world. Which explained why so many people were suddenly going to church."
A relentless pace culminating in a superbly twisted ending won't disappoint Patterson's faithful followers, and may even convert some new members. --Danny Graydon