Tad. To Kill the Pope. An Ecclesiastical Thriller. A Lisa Drew
Book. Scribner. July 2000. c320p. ISBN 0-684-83781-1. $25.00.
While researching his biography of Pope John Paul II, former New York Times correspondent
Szulc came upon a conspiracy theory behind the 1981 assassination attempt. Pursuing
this theory, he offers a fictional treatment of that event, with the French Pope
Gregory XVII falling victim to the attack. Five years after Italian authorities
have concluded their investigation of the Turk who wounded the Pope, Gregory
XVII asks former CIA operative Tim Savage, now a Jesuit and scholar of Islam,
to track down the people behind the plot. Savage follows a trail from Rome to
Istanbul to Paris to southern France, discovering along the way that the plot
to kill the Pope originated not with Moslems or foreign intelligence services
but much closer to home. This is an intelligent novel, more detective story than
thriller, which reads like a series of lessons in Church history, including a
fascinating journey through the process of becoming a Jesuit. Recommended for
all public libraries.