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Catholic News: Conspiracy thriller explores papal world Print Email
Written by Terry Walsh   
Monday, 05 January 2009 12:00 AM America/New_York

Renowned writer’s novel is ‘too Catholic’ for major publishers

Death of a PopeThe new novel Death of a Pope by internationally known author Piers Paul Read (978-1-586-17295-4, hardcover, $21.95, Ignatius Press) is filled with intrigue, love interests and conspiracy theories, but what really makes it a page-turner is a plot to destroy the longest continuous government in the world—the Papacy.

Read is a screenwriter and author of 13 novels and seven nonfiction works, most notably the 1974 book Alive: The Story of the Andes Survivors that was later made into a movie. Interest in that work was recently revived with the docudrama Stranded: I Have Come From a Plane That Crashed on the Mountains, released to the U.S. market in October.

“Read is a big-time author who could have taken his work to other publishers, but elements of this book might have been a little ‘too Catholic,’ ” explained Tony Ryan, marketing director at Ignatius Press. Yet the caliber of the writing and themes of faith and redemption will make it appeal to a broad market, he said.

Unlike Dan Brown’s wildly popular The Da Vinci Code, which made use of the mystique surrounding the Vatican while taking great liberty in its use of facts, the 350-page Death of a Pope bears Read’s well-documented Catholic credentials along with the Ignatius Press name, which should remove any concerns of how papal officials will be portrayed.

In the book, Read looks at forces within the Vatican that are conspiring to overthrow the Papacy. After the death of Pope John Paul II, the College of Cardinals assembles to elect Joseph Ratzinger as Pope Benedict XVI, but a group of radicals will stop at nothing, even blowing up the Vatican, to intervene.

Ignatius Press has a rich background in producing top Catholic fiction that has found wide general market appeal. The publisher’s most successful novels include Michael O’Brien’s six-volume “Children of the Last Days” series. O’Brien is now working on a new novel, Ryan said, and this spring also will see the release of another fiction work, A Postcard From the Volcano by British author Lucy Beckett.

To ensure attention for Death of a Pope in the general and religious markets, Ignatius has set a large marketing budget to support the release. Ryan estimated between $30,000 and $50,000 would be dedicated to the book’s promotion.

For more information, visit To order, call 800-651-1531.