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tiare pontificale saisie par le bras d'une pieuvre

2023, translation by Geraldine & Francesca Delescluse of the French novel "La Pieuvre au Vatican", former published in 2021. The cover is by Jérémie Mercier.

Italy 1978, years of lead. The Vatican is laundering money for the mafia.

Against all odds, Albino becomes pope. He will clean up the mess. But Cosa nostra wants him dead and launches a contract against him. The race for survival begins.



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Very interesting

The fact that this book was translated from French made it a little disjointed. If you are not knowledgeable about the history of the time covered by the book it would be hard to follow. I lived through this time and enjoyed reading it. I especially liked the twist on John Paul I 's death.


If Christ could see it....

February 24, 2022. I found it so captivating that I read The Octopus in the Vatican and Alessa in one sitting. The author takes us into a world far removed from Christian charity. No wonder the Romans have changed the meaning of Vatican license plates ...SCV, from "Santa Città del Vaticano" to "Se Cristo vedesse" (if Christ could see it...).

Unexpected and exciting

February 17, 2021. A book that plunges us into one of the mysteries of the Vatican, giving it a twist that I like. Well structured, well written, the story is well conducted. An author worth following. 


February 27, 2021. Intriguing thriller mixing reality and fiction, which kept me on the edge of my seat from the first pages. And makes you think too. Great book!

Captivating book! March 29, 2021. A fast-paced and exciting story that can be read in one sitting.

I would have liked more details

July 9, 2021. A very well-written novel, concise to a fault. The plot is credible but would have benefited from having more details, descriptions to feel the ambiance, the times, etc. It is very straightforward so people who don't like reading lengthy novels will love it but if you're Vatican shenanigans buff you'll be left feeling a little hungry. Maybe it is to the author's credit; reading him makes you feel you want more.

Excellent moment of relaxation guaranteed! 

March 6, 2021. Stunning pace in a recent historical plot. Well-portrayed characters, humor that is sometimes scathing. A moment of relaxation "par excellence" while surfing on a fluid style. We look forward to the next book!



Alessa Lombardi was alone among the olive trees in the valley. The river was dry. The town of Cinisi stood in front of her. Behind her, the vale narrowed to a steep slope, she had just left. On the right, the hillside was sharp, like the olive groves in Corfu where she spent holidays with her parents as a child. To the left, the hillock was softer. 
The local election had taken place the week before, with an odd outcome. Peppino Impastato had been elected when everyone knew he had just been murdered. The popular message to Cosa Nostra was clear.
Alessa took a few photos to remember the site for her articles. According to what she had been told in town, this must be the place Peppino Impastato’s father had been killed a year earlier. 
“Not a place for a murder, she thought. Peaceful, charming, bucolic even.” She hated that her father had often taken her hunting when she was growing up. He had hoped she would take to it, like him. That is what alerted her. On the way, the birds had been singing. Now there was silence. 
“A crime has been committed here. Both Impastato were murdered. This is concrete. I’m a journalist and I sift through their rubbish.”
She could feel the danger. It was palpable, sliding down her spine. An instinctive, ancestral feeling of becoming prey. She lay down slowly in the sparse dry grass.


Italy has been a Republic and a democracy only since 1945.

During these years of darkness, the neo-fascists tried to destabilize the young Italian democracy with murderous attacks in order to establish a new dictatorship.

At the other end of the political spectrum, the Maoist-inspired Red Brigades did the same.

The Vatican Bank, the unofficial name of the Institute for Religious Works (IOR), is laundering drug money for the Sicilian mafia.

Internationally, it is the Cold War between East and West.

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