cover image The Holy Bullet

The Holy Bullet

Luis Miguel Rocha, Lua-S M. Rocha, Lu Rocha, , trans. from the Portuguese by Robin McAllister. . Putnam, $25.95 (416pp) ISBN 978-0-399-15600-7

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.)