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'I've got the chloral hydrate,' Pat said. 'As soon as we have the pope between us, Hunter, I'll give it to him.'"" Yes, that's right: a plot to kidnap the Pope--not the worst idea for a suspense novel, but executed with a blundering dullness that never manages to come up with a single unexpected twist. The American plotters are a psychotic ex-Green Beret, an English professor, and a retired cop--and their on-the-scene cohort is Rosella Asti, rebellious daughter of the Italian ambassador to the U.S. With dubious ease (some bombs and one killing), this quartet grabs Pope Hadrian IX in Rome, spirits him to a hideaway, and demands four million U.S. dollars to be called for by helicopter; they're counting on the fact that all police attention will be focused on the radical terrorists who killed Moro. Rosella, however, mucks up this foolproof plan through her many loves. First of all, the courier who is delivering those U.S. ransom dollars is, by atrocious coincidence, Father Mike Fergusson, the seminarian whom Rosella could never quite seduce away from the Church. This creates complications, but nothing to compare with what happens when the psychotic Green Beret turns lecherous/homicidal: Rosella runs to another great love, radical terrorist Carlos, who descends with his brigade on the hideaway, forcing the kidnappers to protect the pope, whom they never meant to harm. The only nice touch here--Pope Hadrian's surprisingly tough resourcefulness--should have been made more of. That might have lent some color to an otherwise leaden, implausible, and vaguely unpleasant caper.

Pub Date: March 30th, 1979
Publisher: Putnam