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Ponderous prose weighs down Rocha's sequel to 2008's The Last Pope, which centered on a conspiracy to murder Pope John Paul I. This follow-up treads similar ground, but a plausible premise-that the truth behind the 1981 attempt on the life of John Paul II was never revealed-is undercut by a muddled story line and such winks to the reader as naming a British agent Simon Templar (the hero of a popular 1960s TV series starring Roger Moore) and one character telling another that the previous book (i.e., The Last Pope) is available "for sale in the bookstores." Long-winded descriptive passages, like the opening set at an expensive restaurant in an unnamed city, dampen the tension in a novel alleging dark doings at the heart of the Vatican. Still, those with a limitless appetite for stories about evildoing involving the Catholic Church may be satisfied. (Aug.)Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.