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From Barnes & NobleThe Barnes & Noble Review
Allan Folsom took readers by storm with his novel The Day After Tomorrow, a harrowing tale of Nazis and mysteries that was a blockbuster a few years back. Now he's followed it up with a more mature work (but nonetheless, still a blockbuster) with epic conflict and narrow escapes. This time out, the Vatican — with its secrets, wealth, and spirituality — is in the eye of Folsom's literary hurricane. Folsom twists and turns a plot until the mysteries and thrills begin exploding around the reader, and the pages turn as if by some unseen wind. His chapters are short enough to capture even the shortest attention span, and his characters loom larger than life as they are hurled through this intriguing story.
It's the 75th birthday celebration of Pope Leo XIV, and the media and masses are out in droves to watch the Pope and his cardinals troop through the basilica of St. John. But an assassin is watching, and when the parade of religious leaders gets close enough, he shoots at the Pope's right-hand man, killing him. Then we are whisked from Italy to the home of Harry Addison in Los Angeles. Harry is a megasuccessful entertainment lawyer, known for his peaceable solutions to issues in a town of sharks. His brother Danny leaves a cryptic request for help on his answering machine. But Harry is across town, at the premiere of the new hit movie that one of his young clients wrote and directed. Danny and Harry haven't spoken for years, but they share an intense bond from childhood. When Harry gets the phone message, he erases it, not understanding its importance. But when hehearsthat his brother has been killed in the terrorist bombing of a bus, he flies to Italy to collect Danny's remains.
Arriving in Rome, Harry runs into a terror more threatening than a bomb — Danny is suspected of having been the man who murdered the cardinal, and Harry, who is suspected of being his accomplice, is picked up for questioning.
Harry finds himself in a labyrinth of half-spoken truths, where he can't quite find out what is going on around him as the Italian police play good cop-bad cop with him. Danny became a priest in his 30s, but when he was younger he got into some trouble and entered the Marines before finding religion. He was a good marksman, and the police suspect that Harry supplied him with the money necessary to buy the expensive weapons found at his home. But when Harry goes to view the body at the morgue, surprise! His brother had a prominent physical abnormality, which the corpse doesn't; it can't be Danny, even though a church official claims it is. Now, convinced that his brother is not dead, Harry suspects that some huge conspiracy surrounds the circumstances of both the assassination and the bus bombing. And just when he thinks things can't get worse, Harry is once again grabbed for questioning — leading to a chain of events that leaves a policeman dead, with Harry's prints on the gun that did the deed.
In true Harrison Ford style, Harry becomes a fugitive. His run from the law, however, lands him in the hands of kidnapper Thomas Kind. Anything but kind, Thomas has plans for Harry. After a grueling interrogation at the hands of Kind's mysterious crew, Harry is shot in the head and left for dead. This, folks, is where the story only begins to blast off.
All right, so the book seems overripe at times with improbabilities. It is both a thriller and a romp — and definitely good old-fashioned entertainment, as Vatican conspiracies mount, as both good and evil choose sides, and as a dark plan to force China to submit to the Vatican emerges. But as with The Day After Tomorrow, Folsom manages to narrow these improbabilities and bring them to startling life. This is a hit from the get-go and rollicking, page-turning fun.