United Kingdom and Ireland
July 30, 2023

Summer reading: Vermeer’s Angel

A publisher, an editor, a novelist and an academic comment on a Catholic novel just released.


He survived Hiroshima. He escaped East-Germany. Will he elude the Church?

Deceased art expert Ken Kokura seemingly reappears in Japan, upsetting the plans of priestly diplomats. They fear, lest a ruthless schemer may have stolen his identity. How far will that possible super spy dare to go to subvert Church policy? The answer may be hidden in Vermeer’s celebrated paintings.

Against a Cold War backdrop, friendship, religion, the fine arts, and ideology intertwine. Loyalties are tested, leaving the only alternatives of betrayal or sacrifice. In the Church under attack, the worst infiltration is sin. Safety then will start with repentance.

Vermeer’s Angel is Fr de Malleray’s brilliant debut novel in an intriguing genre that could accurately be called ‘Vatican Noir’. The author’s detailed knowledge of the ecclesiastical backdrop and the artistic foreground make for a convincing ‘high resolution’ world in which ambition, morality, psychology, espionage and high drama intersect.

Pierpaolo Finaldi, Master of the Keys – The Catholic Writers Guild (UK). Pierpaolo Finaldi is also the CEO of The Catholic Truth Society.

A remarkable novel, a tale of Ostpolitik set in expertly orchestrated scenes alternating between the aftermath of Hiroshima and the collapse of Eastern European communism. Ingeniously interweaving the various strands of his fiction with real history, Japanese culture, Vatican diplomacy, Kim Philby’s Soviet spy ring, and a penetrating analysis of art that makes painting come alive, this is not only a culturally sophisticated narrative, but a gripping read, full of human interest.

Robert Asch, St Austin Review.

Writer, literary critic, and scholar, Robert Asch is co-editor of the St Austin Review and of the St Austin Press.

Armand de Malleray’s stunning prose draws the reader into a world of intrigue and uncertainty where nothing is quite as it seems. This is more than just a novel, it is a haunting meditation on the significance of memory, identity, betrayal, guilt and the insatiable human yearning for the Truth.

Fiorella De Maria, author of The Father Gabriel Mysteries

Award-winning novelist De Maria studied Literature in Cambridge and has published nine books with Ignatius Press.

Vermeer’s Angel is a triumph of a novel. It is a startlingly broad canvas that crosses several continents, cultures and decades, unfolding for the reader subtle readings of both artistic masterpieces and men’s souls. It is a novel about the loss of the self, caused by the atomic blast of modernity and the lingering radiation of older ills. It is a novel about memory and about self-betrayal, suffused with a gentle but persistent sense of the need to recover spiritual responsibility in a world of pragmatic compromise.

Brian Sudlow, author of Catholic Literature and Secularisation in France and England (Manchester University Press)

Dr Brian Sudlow teaches at Aston University (Birmingham, UK) and has written extensively about Catholic literature and Catholic thought in France and England.

Published by Arouca Press, 2023.

Vermeer’s Angel is available on the publisher’s website and on Amazon, including for UK customers, whose copy will be printed in the UK and shipped nationwide without custom taxes.

It is also for sale on the Latin Mass Society‘s bookshop.

Size: 23 × 15 × 2.5 cm

390 pages

Paperback £17.50 GBP ; $22.95 USD

See more of Fr de Malleray’s books here.

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