City of Secrets: The Truth Behind the Murders at the Vatican

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9780066209548: City of Secrets: The Truth Behind the Murders at the Vatican

On the night of Monday May 4the 1998, in Vatican territory, the bodies of the commander of the Swiss Guard, his wife, and a young lance corporal were found in the barracks of the picturesque force historically entrusted with protecting the pope. It was the worst bloodbath to take place in more than a century in the heart of the supreme authority of the world's one billion Roman Catholics. Four hours later, the Vatican announced that the lance corporal, twenty three year old Cedric Tornay, had shot the couple, then committed suicide in a "fit of madness" brought on by frustration with the unit's discipline - a conclusion it reaffirmed after a nine-month internal enquiry. But as John Follain's hard-hitting expose shows, the official report was a travesty, a tissue of suppositions, contradictions, and omissions. Based on an exhaustive 3 year investigation - the first independent attempt to establish the truth - City Of Secrets reveals how the Vatican, the oldest and most secretive autocracy in the world, staged an elaborate plot to obstruct justice - and hide the scandals it dares not confess.

Echoing the pace and plotting of a high-stakes thriller, Follain's true-life tale of intrigue moves from the guards' barracks and the pope's palace in Vatican City to Paris, Berlin and the Swiss Alps, and features a fascinating case: an old, suffering John Paul II; his chief bodyguard, formerly accused of spying for the Soviet bloc; a mysterious priest punished by the Vatican;;; and the powerful Opus Dei sect.. Timely and explosive, City Of Secrets is the story of a still-unsolved crime committed on holy territory and of a systematic attempt to hide the fatal failings of a security force charged with protecting one of the world's most influential leaders.

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Review:

A shrewd interviewer...a powerful impetus to the narrative...Follain's is journalism of high quality and is in no way anti-Catholic...(a) judicious inquiry. -- Booklist

Enough cloak-and-dagger stuff to fill a spy novel...The Vatican's version of events was a piece of hasty business. Follain's judgement...is damning. -- NY Daily News

Follain ... admits "nothing justifies" Tornay's actions. But, he argues, the killings could have been avoided. -- Reuters

Follain draws several startling conclusions... -- The Independent

His quest for the truth, which took him halfway across Europe, from Rome to Paris, from Berlin to the Swiss Alps, reads like a modern day spy thriller. -- Deutsche Presse Agentur

In CITY OF SECRETS, John Follain reveals the truth behind the 1998 murders at the Vatican. -- Vanity Fair

both superb journalism and an outstanding example of forensic psychology...also exposed weaknesses in the Vatican that need addressing. -- The Edmonton Journal

the author relates how the holy men of the cloth embarked on a damage control exercise of frightening efficiency. -- Wanted in Rome

this is a book you'll sail through, and at the end, you'll appreciate the author's investigative efforts as much as his writing ability. -- The Rocky Mountain News

From the Publisher:

On the night of Monday, May 4, 1998, the bodies of the commander of the Swiss Guard, his wife, and a young vice-corporal were found in the Vatican barracks of the force entrusted with protecting the Pope. Four hours later, the Vatican announced that the vice-corporal, 23-year-old Cedric Tornay, had shot the couple and then committed suicide in a "fit of madness" brought on by frustration with the unit's discipline -- a conclusion the Vatican reaffirmed after a ten-month internal inquiry.
In CITY OF SECRETS, John Follain presents the findings of his intensive three-year investigation into the crime on the grounds of the oldest and most secretive autocracy in the world. Casting aside the rapid and seemingly uncomplicated findings of the Vatican's inquiry, Follain's quest for the truth moves like a modern day spy thriller through the inner sanctums of Vatican City to Rome, Paris, Berlin, and the Swiss Alps as he seeks the answers to why Tornay committed the crime.
Initially prompted by Tornay's mother to undertake this challenging investigation, Follain quickly finds himself immersed in a mystery that extends far beyond the Swiss Guards' barracks. In CITY OF SECRETS he not only tells the story of a gruesome crime on holy territory, but also of the shameful efforts of men of the cloth -- including a would-be successor to Pope John Paul II and one of his most trusted servants -- to obstruct the course of justice, vilify the character of Tornay, stifle a potential scandal over homosexual affairs within the Guard, and hide the fatal failings that make the force unfit to protect the Pope.
In the first independent attempt to establish the truth about the worst bloodbath in more than a century at the heart of the supreme authority for the world's one billion Roman Catholics, CITY OF SECRETS is an astonishing look behind the Papal curtain at the secrets and weaknesses that its protectors work to conceal at all costs.

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