You have to agree that the title is intriguing. Reading the preface will interest you even more because it will tell you all about the Devil's Advocate hereafter to be known as the DA. The Catholic Church has allocated this title to the person who will argue against making someone a saint. His edict is to study the saint-to-be's life and purported miracles and turn the skeptics' eye on it. On an aside, reading Morris West's book took me back some years.
My father used to be the member of a book club called Book-A-Month (BAM) club. I have no direct memory of this because I never saw books arriving once a month. Based on some search links that turned up it could be a publisher rather than a club even. When I turned a book worm I hankered after every single book at home regardless of caste or creed. Luckily for me it was a large horde accumulated over the years by my Dad and older siblings. The encouragement to the reader in me was from my Mom and Mom only. MAB books were mostly great works of literature from other languages translated to Malayalam. One book in particular from that time stayed with me a lot and I have been looking for it for a while now with no results. 'Cardinal' was the name. It was about a priest named Stephen Fermoil who rose to become a Cardinal in the Church from his humble beginnings as the son of a trolley driver.
Definitely the styles are not similar between the two books but the general environment around the characters sort of are. I am so glad to have found this book to give me a certain closure:-)
I can't just believe it! I wrote up to the above line and saved and started searching again for the Cardinal on a whim. Contrary to what happened the umpteen times I tried, the Search Goddesses (aka, key words) aligned and brought out a whole bunch of links from the woodwork! So even if I had only intended to write on West's book this has now turned into one on The Cardinal too!!!! Apparently it was a very popular book and was even made into a movie. Note to self : watch movie. I also know the author's name now. Henry Morton Robinson. So it is official. I now have total closure over this hitherto unresolved issue..
Getting back to the DA, it is all about the DA himself under threat of imminent death from a terminal illness who is sent to investigate the path to saintdom of a man named Giacomo Nerone in rural Italy. You will find an unlikely hero in Father Blaise Meredith and will come to admire the man for his honesty and lack of flowery speeches. A good read doubtless.