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Reviewed by Christian Sia for Readers' Favorite
Holy Water: A Novel Based on True Fake Events by Colin Heston is a fantastic story that features conspiracy, the game of power, religious manipulation, and crime. Alphonso is a top Mexican drug lord who penetrates the Vatican, engaging in the Holy Water business. The pope dies in mysterious circumstances and Alphonso replaces him with his puppet, Cardinal Pollagrande. The rich Alphonso will buy a New Jersey state university for his lesbian daughter and will rename it Virgin Hall. There is a lot of drama, humorously written scenes involving a papal visit to Virgin Hall, and snake dancing. But the big question as another papal conclave looms ahead is: Who will eventually have absolute power?
While this is a comedy, it intelligently makes a mockery of the influence of the rich on church leaders, and while the satire targets some of the important figures in the church, it also reflects the greed of some of the churchmen who allow themselves to be controlled by those with strong financial influences. The humor greets the reader right from the opening sentences, with a funny description of the pot-bellied Alphonso, a man who scratches his belly when he is nervous, because when he is nervous, his navel itches. The dialogues are wonderfully written and they contain the author’s blend of humor and satire. The cast of characters is interesting, including Estelle, the cardinal’s robot housekeeper, Julia, El Padrino, and others. While Alphonso is a selfish man with no family skills, he finds himself in a situation where he becomes the father of a big family. Can he learn to take responsibility as someone who cares deeply for his people or will he continue to allow important things about his life and family to be managed by his oversexed thugs? Holy Water: A Novel Based on True Fake Events is a rollicking ride for anyone who loves good humor and the company of well-developed characters. The tone is lighthearted but never lacking in those moments that are mentally engaging.