A world-famous assassin, a power-hungry villain, a beleaguered hero, a plot to take over the largest country on earth. Folsom's frantically paced follow-up to his bestselling The Day After Tomorrow throws together all the raw materials of a first-rate thriller and proves that ingredients alone do not a meal make. Four days after Cardinal Rosario Parma is assassinated in Rome, hotshot L.A. entertainment lawyer Harry Addison gets a frantic phone message from his estranged brother, Danny, a Vatican priest. Shortly thereafter, Harry hears that Danny has died in a bus explosion. When he flies to Rome to claim the body, he discovers that Danny is the prime suspect in Parma's murder?and that he's still alive. The novel then follows two parallel plots. Harry tries to find Danny and clear his name; meanwhile, the sinister Cardinal Umberto Palestrina, who thinks he's the reincarnation of Alexander the Great, plots to make China the site of a new Holy Roman Empire. It's that Alexander the Great touch that pushes an already teetering story line over the edge, where everything is explained by shorthand (the estrangement between the Addison brothers) or circular logic (Palestrina is feared and powerful because he inspires fear and wields power). There's a lot of action, mostly to hide the fact that the cardboard characters generate as little sympathy as the thousands of Chinese deaths that are Step One in Palestrina's master plan. Instead of being disturbing or controversial, Folsom's mix of religion and politics approaches comic-book parody.
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