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JOHN CORNWELL was editor of the Foreign News Service at 'The Obsrver' in London. He is the author of a number of books including 'Earth to Earth', which won the Crime Writers' Gold Dagger Award in 1984. Mr. Cornwell lives in England.

John Cornwell

A Thief in the Night

The Mysterious Death of Pope John Paul I

JACKET NOTES:  On the night of September 28, 1978, John Paul I known to the world as Papa Luciani, the smiling Pope" -died unexpectedly after a reign of only thirty-three days. The cause of death, according to the Vatican doctor, was a heart attack. But there were serious disagreements within the Vatican as to who found the body and when, the official cause and the estimated time of death, the legality of the embalmment, and the true state of the Pope's health prior to his death. The Italian news agency ANSA reported that the morticians were called at dawn before the body was even found. Rumors of foul play began to circulate and, despite Vatican denials, a series of conspiracy theories, involving variously the KGB, the Freemasons, crooked financiers, and Vatican officials, has never been laid to rest.
In the autumn of 1987 John Cornwell, an award-winning reporter, was invited by the Vatican to conduct a new, independent investigation into the true circumstances of Papa Luciani's death and the allegation that he was poisoned in an assassination plot involving senior prelates of the Roman Catholic Church.
A Thief in the Night, currently a best-seller in England, is the story of John Cornwell's journey through the secret world of the Vatican. Cornwell traveled from Rome and Milan to Zurich, to Ireland, and to Newark, New Jersey, in search of information concerning the men who had been close to John Paul I at his death. He describes his encounters with, among others, the reclusive Archbishop Paul Marcinkus, until recently the President of the Vatican Bank, whose critics allege that he is linked with the $1 billion collapse of the Banco Ambrosiano; the Vatican doctor who signed the Pope's certificate of death; and the Pope's personal secretaries, whose whereabouts on the night of John Paul I's death remain in question.
Cornwell's narrative offers an unprecedented look inside one of the world's oldest, most secretive institutions-and presents an account of John Paul I's death that is far more startling, shocking, and realistic than any of the conspiracy theories to date.
(© Simon & Schuster Inc.)