Set in a not-too-distant future, and moving between Rome and Amsterdam, God's Dog is a detective novel unlike any you have read before.
It is the eve of Pope Benedict XVIII's canonisation and Domingo Salazar, a Haitian orphan and now a Vatican secret agent, is hellbent on defeating the Angels of Death, pro-abortion and pro-euthanasia dissidents who are undermining the Pope's authority.
But as Salazar closes in on the cell he finds his life turned upside down. Suddenly it is Salazar and his closest friend Guntur who are under suspicion of sabotaging the administration. Their concept for a globalised religion called Bible-Koranism has upset the Church and they are in grave danger, as is Guntur's infamous Swahili-speaking chimpanzee Django.
God's Dog is a spoof on the absurdities of institutionalised religion that will delight aficionados of thrillers and detective novels as well as fans of Diego Marani.
Diego Marani was born in Ferrara, Italy in 1959. He has worked as a translator and policy officer for the European Commission and has written several other novels, collections of essays and short stories. New Finnish Grammar was published by Text in 2012 and was shortlisted for the Independent Foreign Fiction Award and the Best Translated Book Award. The Last of the Vostyachs was published by Text in 2013.
Billed as Marani's first detective novel and the opening of a trilogy, this thoughtful book set in the near future, in an Italian Catholic Republic ruled by a conservative, doctrinaire papacy is less mystery than dystopian thriller. Domingo Salazar, Roman Catholic police officer, has spent years in Amsterdam proselytizing, laundering church money, and forging a heretical alliance with Muslims. When he's summoned to Rome, he believes he'll investigate a euthanasia ring, but realizes too late that someone wants him dead. His only hope for survival is an alliance with a terrorist cell planning to assassinate the pope. The plot builds slowly, with numerous philosophical discussions about faith, syncretism, language, and theocracy. The villains church leaders obsessed with ideological purity are one-dimensional, but Marani (The Last of the Vostyachs) offers no easy heroes either. The fanatical Salazar has destroyed lives for his church. Readers troubled by subjects such as theocracy, propaganda, and the debate between science and faith should find plenty to contemplate.