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The Last Pope Paperback – July 28, 2009

3.0 out of 5 stars 33 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

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. 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, 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." --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Booklist

Rocha is not the first author to allege that Pope John Paul I did not die of natural causes 33 days into his reign in September 1978. This blend of fact and fiction centers on papers pointing to the Vatican’s financial involvement in corruption, through the mysterious Masonic Lodge P2, and the new pope’s intent to replace those involved and to liberalize various church positions. In nonstop action jumping between New York and several European capitals, papers revealing the plot—sent by a priest to his goddaughter, a Portuguese journalist—are hunted down by those who fear their exposure, including a corrupt CIA official. The action is so fast, with a rising murder count along the way, that readers need to be attentive to connect dots and follow multiple plot threads (including the third secret of Fatima). Rocha, convinced that the pope was murdered, includes information clarifying which characters are historical. Although the novel is likely to appeal to fans of conspiracy theories and readers of Dan Brown, it sacrifices storytelling for making the case about the death of the pope. --Michele Leber --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 432 pages
  • Publisher: Jove; Reprint edition (July 28, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0515146609
  • ISBN-13: 978-0515146608
  • Product Dimensions: 4.3 x 0.9 x 7.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (33 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #370,551 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By A Customer on August 17, 2008
Format: Hardcover
In 1978 with the death of the Pope, the College of Cardinals meets in the Vatican to elect his successor. The Cardinals are divided into two extreme camps between traditionalist Cardinal Agosto Mancini and change agent Cardinal Ignatius Heriot. Thus an unacceptable comprise Cardinal Don Albino Luciani is chosen to sit as John Paul I on the papal throne. He makes clear his intention is to clean up and out the House of God everywhere; a little over a month later, he dies with rumors he was murdered for his ethical cleansing campaign especially to end church-mob ties. A second College of Cardinals session elects Karol Józef Wojty'a of Poland as Pope John Paul II.

Three decades later London journalist Sarah Monteiro receives a letter that insists Pope John Paul I was murdered and the attempts to kill his successor were from the same conspiratorial group who also killed Sweden's Prime Minister Olof Palme. However, Sarah assumes this is a hoax worth checking into, but soon believes the accusations are true when several attempts to assassinate her occur. Due to the grace of God she lives, but fears her days are numbered in single digits.

Conspiracy fans will relish the constant power struggle within the highest levels of the Catholic Church. Luis Miguel Rocha builds his exciting story line upon the underlying premise that Pope John Paul I was murdered. The look back to behind the scenes shenanigans by the competing Cardinals in 1978 is fascinating whether one accepts Mr. Rocha's assertion or not. The present scenario with Sarah on the run is more action-packed, but not quite as interesting as three decades ago is. Still thriller fans will enjoy THE LAST POPE wondering how acrimonious poisoning politics even enter the selection of who will wear The Shoes of the Fisherman (by Morris West).

Harriet Klausner
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Format: Hardcover
When my wife gave me this book to read and said it was as exciting as Dan Brown's thrillers, I was doubtful. Dan Brown demonstrated imagination in dealing with semi-historical plots, stretching credibility but telling a good story. Could Luis Miguel Rocha do as well? In my judgment the comparison is valid.

The Last Pope is a very fast paced mystery, with rapidly changing scenes and multiple characters. Prepare yourself for a thrilling suspenseful ride, filled with dangerous enemies lurking in shadows and a heroine facing danger without being able to recognize her enemy.

Beginning the novel we are introduced to Albino Luciani, a healthy sixty six year old man who, against his wishes, was elected Pope. Thirty three days later, as John Paul I, he was dead. Within twenty four hours, Albino Luciani's body was embalmed and his apartment throughly cleaned. Could this Pope have been assassinated?

Although this novel is not a historical, The Last Pope is an exciting novel. Using a few actual events, the story suggests that the Pope was killed to cover-up financial and possible mafia activities inside the Vatican.

Twenty eight years after the death of John Paul I "evidence" was sent to a journalist who suddenly finds herself running to avoid professional secret agents resolved to destroy the information and to do anything to silence anyone with knowledge of Vatican activities before and since John Paul's papacy.

The death of the Pope occurs near the beginning of the novel, which keeps the reader in suspense during most of the book. Was the Pope actually killed? Who could avoid security and perform the murder undetected? Why accept the assumption that a healthy man died of a massive coronary without warning? What could be a motive?
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Format: Hardcover
Though I was only in Catholic grade school at the time, 1978, the year of three popes, is one I remember well. The death of Paul VI led to the election of Albino Luciani as John Paul I, the first conclave I remember seeing on TV. But, thirty-three days later, John Paul I was dead, under mysterious circumstances. Conspiracy theory whispers have always surrounded it. And yet, I have never come across a novel about it until now.

In The Last Pope, a mysterious, coded list is sent to an unsuspecting journalist, Sarah Monteiro, who quickly finds herself hunted by the members and minions of a secret society bent on recovering the document. It turns out that this document is linked to the death of John Paul I. So, interspersed with the thriller aspects of the modern-day events, are chapters that take us back to 1978 and before, to events in the life of Alvino Luciani both before and during his short time on the Chair of St. Peter.

As a novel and as a thriller, I find Mr. Rocha's book to be rather ordinary. It follows many of the typical genre standards, with its secondary character corpses, long, ridiculous chase scenes, professional killers who continually fail to kill their amateur target, and a few minor mysteries that are uncovered rather easily. On the other hand, the historical scenes centered on John Paul and the events leading to his death, are quite well done and much more interesting.

In fact, I think Mr. Rocha might have been much better off simply writing a non-fiction piece about what his research has uncovered about the death of John Paul I--what he sees as the facts, what his speculations are, because this is really the only interest in this novel.
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