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Thomas Gifford was the New York Times bestselling author of The Assassini, Praetorian, The Wind Chill Factor, and The First Sacrifice. The Wind Chill Factor won Putnam's prize for best first novel. Gifford also wrote under the names Thomas Maxwell and Dana Clarins. He was a graduate of Harvard University. Gifford died in his birthplace of Dubuque, Iowa, in 2000.
Gifford's ( The Wind Chill Factor ) splendid thriller--his first novel in 11 years--takes place as the Catholic Church prepares to elect a new pope and an ancient and deadly secret society, its roots deep in Church history, takes murderous action. An ambitious monsignor and a well-connected lay power broker are executed in New York City; hours later, a radical activist nun writing a book on the Church's role in WW II is killed in Princeton, N.J. The nun's brother, lawyer Ben Driskill, a cynical ex-Catholic and former Jesuit seminarian, determines to avenge her murder. He must track down the meaning of the tattered WW II photo his sister left behind, featuring one of the two likeliest candidates for the papacy, and discover why she was investigating the suicide in Princeton of a visiting priest 50 years earlier. Driskill's perilous journey takes him to Egypt, Paris, Ireland and Rome, where another American nun is asking similar questions. As their paths converge, dark secrets from the Church's history in WW II are revealed. Despite the fact that many readers will identify the mysterious ``Archduke'' well before the somewhat overwrought conclusion, Gifford delivers a classic thriller: well-written, plausible and thought-provoking. 50,000 first printing; $50,000 ad/promo. (Sept.)
"A classic thriller."--Publishers Weekly. "Adds new meaning to the word riveting."--Atlanta Journal And Constitution. "Masterfully plotted and brilliantly told, The Assasini's suspense is unrelenting and its satisfaction is guaranteed."--Ross Thomas author of The Fourth Durango