Gerald Sinstadt's Reviews > City of Secrets: The Truth Behind the Murders at the Vatican

City of Secrets by John Follain
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Jan 14, 11

bookshelves: non-fiction-general
Read from January 09 to 13, 2011

A young man from a broken family background (doting mother, wastrel father, violent stepfather) joins the army, is bullied by a commanding officer who cruelly denies him a warranted medal. The young man then kills the officer and the officer's wife before turning his gun on himself.

In a compassionate society there would have been public outrage and demands for an enquiry. But not in the case of Lance Corporal Cédric Tornay. Because this army was the Swiss Guard, the Pope's private defence force. The scandal occurred in the Vatican. Within hours of the shootings it was announced that they were the result of a "fit of madness." Case closed. Nothing more to be said.

In fact, there was much worth saying and John Follain, a Sunday Times journalist based in Rome, painstakingly peels away the layers of cynical deceit and self-protection which sought to prevent the truth from emerging. The result is an engrossing book that points an accusing finger at senior Vatican figures and, in passing, suggests that the Swiss Guard is little more than a Pope Karno's army. It is invesitgate journalism at its thoughtful, responsible best.
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