The Holy Bullet

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9780515148251: The Holy Bullet

Deep in the Vatican's inner sanctum lies a dark and terrifying secret . . . a secret that has been concealed for decades, and one that its keepers will stop at nothing to protect. In 1978 Pope John Paul I dies in mysterious circumstances. His successor, John Paul II, emerges from the conclave unaware that he is in mortal danger. It is only through the actions of a few loyal operatives that his assassination is prevented. Thirty years later journalist Sarah Monteiro begins to uncover the sinister machinations of a covert agency, whose web of lies and injustice hides the true power behind the throne. It would seem that the dark forces are still at large, and Sarah faces a life-or-death struggle in the name of truth and faith.

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Review :

Product Description
A fast-paced thriller about the conspiracy surrounding the 1981 attempted assassination of Pope John Paul II, from the author of the international bestseller The Last Pope

An international journalist, a war-weary Portuguese veteran, a Muslim with visions of the Virgin MAry, a rogue priest, and members of the world's most pwoerful--and secretive--organizations come together after the suspicous death of Pope John Paul I. A few operatives bold enough to penetrate the Vatican's shadowy inner circle will investigate what went wrong--and try to prevent the popular new pope from meeting the same fate.

In London, journalist Sarah Monteiro is again drawn into the web of international conspiracy, and must reunite--reluctantly--with the mysterious priest/assassin Rafael, and the sinister mastermind known only as JC. Sarah's and Rafael's commitment to truth and justice could prove to be extremely dangerous, for thema nd for John Paul II, especially if they discover the true power behind the papal throne. Author Bio:Luis Miguel Rocha was born in Oporto, Portugal, and worked for many years in London as a television writer and producer.

A Conversation with Luis M. Rocha

How do you describe this book?

I think of it as a new perspective on what happened to John Paul II—specifically the 1981 assassination attempt that nearly took his life. Over the years the attack on the Pope has been seen as the work of either a crazed lone gunman—Mehmet Ali Agca—or as a conspiracy involving any number of outside forces including, among others, the Turks, the Russians, the Iranians, or the Bulgarians and their secret intelligence services. In reality the people who wanted to kill John Paul II were the same ones who were responsible for the murder of his predecessor, John Paul I. No other book has focused on the attempted assassination in this way.

Why did you choose THE HOLY BULLET as the title of your new thriller?

Ali Agca shot the Pope six times from a distance of just five feet away and yet only three of his bullets actually hit their target. One bullet hit him in the thumb and hand; the other two hit him in the abdomen. According to the medical literature from the case, the zigzagging trajectory of one of those two resulted in the bullet missing every major organ—lungs, heart, liver and so on. The bullet injured John Paul II for sure, and it was serious, but it was almost as if something had diverted its path to prevent it from being fatal. I think of it as a holy bullet because it didn't let John Paul II die. That's where the idea for the title came from.

What exactly is the story you're telling about the 1981 attempt on John Paul II's life?

Before I answer that we need to recall what happened to the Pope's predecessor, John Paul I. He was assassinated because he was too honest. More interested in helping people than in maintaining the status quo, he wanted to give the Catholic Church's fortune to the faithful and used to say he wanted to be the last rich pope. He also started cleaning house at the Vatican. For example, he was going to get rid of the director of the Vatican Bank, American archbishop Paul Marcinkus, who was directly involved in money laundering and countless financial scandals. The Pope felt the archbishop should pay for his crimes and wanted him arrested by Italian authorities.

When John Paul I died, the people who killed him thought it was "case closed" with regard to cleaning house at the Vatican. When Karol Wojtyla was subsequently elected Pope they thought it unlikely he'd act in the same way. They assumed when he took the name John Paul II he was simply paying homage to his predecessor. In fact Wojtyla meant it as an indication that he planned to follow the same course as the man who came before him. From 1978, the year of his election, until 1981 he, too, was trying to clean out the

Church. He was perhaps doing so a bit less directly than John Paul I but he was doing it nonetheless. Once again Marcinkus felt he had no choice but to take active measures. It was he, along with Licio Gelli—one of the world's great mobsters, and grand master of Propaganda Due (P2), a Masonic lodge involved in all kinds of skullduggery including a number of schemes tied to the Vatican bank—who hired Ali Agca and tried to have John Paul II killed.

Is this speculation on your part?

No. It comes from the same person who served as the source for my first book, The Last Pope. This was an acquaintance of mine—purportedly an assistant at the Italian foreign ministry—who told me in 2005 that he had murdered John Paul I, and then showed me the documents to prove it, including papers the Pope had with him the night of his death which disappeared that night. This is not speculation. The only liberties I took were in the fictional part of the story—the part that involved Raphael and Sarah Monteiro. In the historical chapters I took no liberties at all. It's perhaps a bit arrogant to say, "this is the truth," but I will say this is what I believe happened.

When exactly did you meet this assassin, and under what circumstances?

I met him thirteen years ago in London quite by chance. I was waiting for my girlfriend at the time and he happened to be in the same place also waiting for someone. We started chatting. It was a very routine encounter, nothing out of the ordinary. We ended up staying in contact and later started talking over the Internet. The month that John Paul II died, he came to visit me in Oporto, Portugal and that's when he told me who he was and what he had done. Needless to say I was shocked. We talked for several hours, almost until morning, after which I mused aloud that his tale would make a great story.

Is he still alive?

No. By 2005 he was already an old timer, like a grandpa—the image of a fragile old man—but he had been very involved in these and other cases related to the Vatican and Italy. He not only gave me an oral description of what he had experienced and what he knew, but also documents, transcripts and a lot of back-up material that I used to research my stories. Without him there would be no books.

Read the entire interview [PDF]

About the Author :

Luis Miguel Rocha was born in Oporto, Portugal, and worked for many years in London as a television writer and producer. He now lives in Portugal, where he continues to write for television and film. His first book, The Last Pope, is also an international bestseller.

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