Book Review: The Hopkins Conundrum by Simon Edge

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Simon Edge’s debut novel has in its sights the Vatican conspiracy thriller – a genre of religious orders, secret missions and coded messages that has proved so successful for the likes of Dan Brown.

Tim Cleverley has inherited a struggling pub in North Wales, near the Jesuit seminary where Victorian poet Gerard Manley Hopkins wrote the poem The Wreck of the Deutschland.

Inspired by a terrible holiday with his ex on the trail of blockbuster Holy Grail novel The Poussin Conundrum, Tim hits on a plan to drum up more trade. He invents a mystery around Hopkin’s obscure religious poem and the local area, and entices the Conundrum’s author to come and write about it.

What follows is a witty satire in which Edge cleverly weaves together Hopkins’ struggles as he writes the poem, those of a group of nuns on the doomed Deutschland and Tim’s bid to turn his corner of the world into the next Grail hunting hotspot.

By turns gripping and laugh-out-loud funny, this is a great read for anyone who has ever reached the end of a Vatican thriller with an eyebrow raised.