The election of Don Albino Luciani to the papal throne in 1978 threatens the Vatican status quo in this routine thriller from Portuguese author Rocha, his first novel.A John Paul I's views on papal infallibility and such controversial subjects as birth control, not to mention his resolve to clean house of those men of God who sullied the Roman Catholic church by financial chicanery with mob links,A lead to his murder soon after he becomes pope. In the present-day, London journalist Sarah Monteiro receives a letter implicating the pope's killers. The same shadowy band turns out to be behind the attempt on the life of John Paul II as well as the assassination of Swedish prime minister Olof Palme. Sarah struggles to stay alive and keep the evidence out of the wrong hands amid predictable action sequences and hairbreadth escapes. An author interview at book's end claiming that John Paul I was actually murdered is sure to please conspiracy buffs. (Aug.)Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
Portuguese writer Rocha centers his thriller on the unexpected death of Pope John Paul I on September 29, 1978, only 33 days into his papacy. The author, who claims to have met the man who killed the pope (identified only as J.C.), ties the conspiracy to the clandestine Masonic lodge Propaganda Due (P2) and its grand master, Licio Gelli. Like Gelli, many of Rocha's characters are historical figures, including most of those implicated in Vatican scandals of the time-American archbishop Paul Marcinkus, chairman of the Institute for Religious Works (the Vatican bank), the mafia banker Michele Sidona, and P2 member Roberto Calvi (aka God's Banker) of the Banco Ambrosiano, found hanging from the Blackfriars Bridge in London in 1982. The pope's secretary of state, Cardinal Jean-Marie Villot, himself a Mason, an excommunicable offense, is also implicated in the crime. Before the novel's unsatisfactory conclusion (and the epilog supposedly written by the man who killed the pope), P2 will control the London office of the CIA and have a hand in most of the other conspiracies of the time. Unbelievable action (the fictionalized contemporary elements of this tale), shallow characterization, and banal narration limit the effectiveness of this Da Vinci Code wannabe. The author's annoying habit of trying to create suspense by referring to characters only as "this man, the fat man, the old man, the speaker, the subject, the pursuer, the assistant, the servant" adds to the confusion. For conspiracy addicts only.
The mysterious death of Pope John Paul I and the evil machinations of real-life figures from Vatican bank scandals enmesh a pretty Portuguese reporter and her mysterious defender. Crowds of cynical cardinals, malevolent archbishops and grasping members of the shadowy Italian Masonic lodge P2 complicate the time-skipping plot of this thriller debut by Portuguese TV and film writer Rocha. His attempt to sort out the unanswered questions raised by the London murder of banker Roberto Calvi and the brief papacy of Albino Luciani skips back and forth between the pope's last days in the 1970s and the present. Lovely international reporter Sarah Monteiro arrives in London to find in her pile of mail an envelope stuffed with an unexplained list of names, including her father's. The list was sent by a Vatican prelate who swiped it from the archives and slipped it in the mailbox seconds before being iced by an assassin with the run of St. Peters. The killer is an operative reporting to the cabal of highly placed government, church and business figures whose Masonic alliance has allowed them to swindle and bamboozle their way to riches and political power. In their unholy work, they had and continue to have the wholehearted assistance of the CIA, which lends invaluable technical assistance to their manic effort to regain the purloined information and keep it from the public. The late pope had learned about the shady financial dealings of Paul VI's American advisor, Archbishop Paul Marcinkus, and had been planning to clean house. As soon as Sarah reads the list, more bodies drop, and they continue to drop as she sorts things out with the help of a handsome turncoat agent with a mysterious past. Thenovel, an international bestseller, is nearly as messy as the actual bank scandal it draws on. Agent: Laura Dail/Laura Dail Literary Agency
From the Publisher
"Likely to appeal to fans of conspiracy theories and readers of Dan Brown."