Day of Confession


By Allan Folsom

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A heart-thumping whirlwind of action, suspense & murder that reaches deep into the highest levels of Vatican power & uncovers a demonic scheme to massacre hundreds of thousands of Chinese in an attempt to establish a new Holy Roman Empire on the Chinese mainland in the twenty-first century.


Also by Allan Folsom

The Day After Tomorrow


Copyright © 1998 by Allan R. Folsom

All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced in any form or by any electronic or mechanical means, including information storage and retrieval systems, without permission in writing from the publisher, except by a reviewer who may quote brief passages in a review.

First eBook Edition: October 2009

This is a work of fiction. Characters, institutions, organizations, situations, and philosophies are the product of the author's imagination, except for incidental references to public figures, institutions, or organizations that have been used fictitiously without any intent to describe or portray actual conduct.

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ISBN: 978-0-446-54876-2

for Karen and Riley,

and for Ellen

The Characters

Harry Addison

Father Daniel Addison — Harry's younger brother, a priest in the Vatican and private secretary to Cardinal Marsciano

Nursing sister Elena Voso

Hercules, a dwarf

The Vatican

Giacomo Pecci, Pope Leo XIV

The pope's Uomini di fiducia, "Men of trust"

Cardinal Umberto Palestrina

Cardinal Nicola Marsciano

Cardinal Joseph Matadi

Monsignor Fabio Capizzi

Cardinal Rosario Parma

Father Bardoni, an aide to Cardinal Marsciano

The Vatican Police

Jacov Farel, head of the Vatican Police

The Italian Police

Homicide Detective Otello Roscani

Homicide Detective Gianni Pio

Homicide Detective Scala

Homicide Detective Castelletti

Gruppo Cardinale—The special task force set up by decree of the Italian Ministry of the Interior to investigate the murder of the cardinal vicar of Rome

Marcello Taglia, Gruppo Cardinale Chief Prosecutor

The Chinese

Li Wen, a state water-quality inspector

Chen Yin, a merchant of cut flowers

Yan Yeh, president of the People's Bank of China

Jiang Youmei, Chinese ambassador to Italy

Zhou Yi, Jiang's foreign minister

Wu Xian, general secretary of the Communist Party

The Freelancers

Thomas Jose Alvarez-Rios Kind, international terrorist

Adrianna Hall, World News Network correspondent

James Eaton, first secretary to the counselor for Political Affairs, United States Embassy, Rome

Pierre Weggen, Swiss investment banker

Miguel Valera, a Spanish communist


Rome. Sunday, June 28.

TODAY HE CALLED HIMSELF S AND LOOKED startlingly like Miguel Valera, the thirty-seven-year-old Spaniard spinning in a light, drug-induced sleep across the room. The apartment they were in was nothing, just two rooms with a tiny kitchen and bath, the fifth floor up from the street. The furnishings were worn and inexpensive, common in a place rented by the week. The most prominent pieces were the faded velvet couch on which the Spaniard reclined and the small drop leaf table under the front window, where S stood looking out.

So the apartment was nothing. What sold it was the view—the green of the Piazza San Giovanni and across it, the imposing medieval Basilica of St. John in the Lateran, the Cathedral of Rome and "mother of all churches," founded by the Emperor Constantine in the year 313. Today the view from the window was even better than its promise. Inside the basilica, Giacomo Pecci, Pope Leo XIV, was celebrating mass on his seventy-fifth birthday, and an enormous crowd overflowed the piazza, making it seem as if all Rome were celebrating with him.

Running a hand through his dyed-black hair, S glanced at Valera. In ten minutes his eyes would open. In twenty he would be alert and functional. Abruptly S turned and let his gaze fall on an ancient black-and-white television in the corner. On its screen was a live broadcast from the mass inside the basilica.

The pope, in white liturgical vestments, watched the faces of the worshipers in front of him as he spoke, his eyes meeting theirs energetically, hopefully, spiritually. He loved and they loved in return, and it seemed to give him a youthful renewal despite his age and slowly declining health.

Now the television cameras cut away, finding familiar faces of politicians, celebrities, and business leaders among those inside the packed basilica. Then the cameras moved on, fixing briefly on five clergymen seated behind the pontiff. These were his longtime advisers. His uomini di fiducia. Men of trust. As a group, probably the most influential authority within the Roman Catholic Church.

— Cardinal Umberto Palestrina, 62. A Naples street urchin and orphan become Vatican secretariat of state. Enormously popular within the Church and carried in the same high regard by the secular international diplomatic community. Massive physically, six foot seven and 270 pounds.

— Rosario Parma, 67. Cardinal vicar of Rome, tall, severe, conservative prelate from Florence in whose diocese and church the mass was being celebrated.

— Cardinal Joseph Matadi, 57, prefect of the Congregation of Bishops. Native of Zaire. Broad shouldered, jovial, widely traveled, multilingual, diplomatically astute.

— Monsignor Fabio Capizzi, 62, director general of the Vatican Bank. Native of Milan. Graduate of Oxford and Yale, self-made millionaire before joining the seminary at age thirty.

— Cardinal Nicola Marsciano, 60, eldest son of a Tuscan farmer, educated in Switzerland and Rome, president of the Administration of the Patrimony of the Apostolic See; as such, chief overseer of the Vatican's investments.


The gloved hand of S turned off the television, and he stepped again to the table in front of the window. Behind him Miguel Valera coughed and moved involuntarily on the sofa. S glanced at him, then looked back out the window. Police barricades had been set up to keep the crowd from the cobblestones directly in front of the basilica, and now mounted police on horseback took up positions on either side of its bronze central entrance gate. Behind them and to the left, out of sight of the crowd, S could see a dozen dark blue vans. In front of them stood a phalanx of riot police, also out of sight, but ready if needed. Abruptly four dark Lancias, unmarked cars of the Polizia di Stato, the police force protecting the pope and his cardinals outside the Vatican, pulled up and stopped at the foot of the basilica's steps, waiting to take the pope and his cardinals back to the Vatican.

Suddenly the bronze gates swung open and there was a roar from the crowd. At the same time seemingly every church bell in Rome began to ring. For a moment nothing happened. Then, above the din of the bells, S heard a second roar as the pope appeared, the white of his cassock standing out clearly against a sea of red as his men of trust walked close behind him—the group surrounded tightly by security men wearing black suits and sunglasses.

Valera groaned, his eyes flickered, and he tried to roll over. S glanced at him, but only for an instant. Then he turned and lifted something covered with an ordinary bath towel from the shadows beside the window. Setting it on the table, he took away the towel and put his eye to the scope of a Finnish sniper rifle. Instantly his view of the basilica magnified a hundredfold. In the same moment, Cardinal Palestrina stepped forward and fully into its circular frame, its crosshairs meeting directly over his broad grin. S took a breath and held it, letting his gloved forefinger ease against the trigger.

Abruptly Palestrina stepped aside, and the rifle's scope came tight on Cardinal Marsciano's chest. S heard Valera grunt behind him. Ignoring him, he swung the rifle left through a blur of cardinal red until he saw the white of Leo XIV's cassock. A split second later the crosshairs centered between his eyes just above the bridge of his nose.

Behind him Valera yelled something out loud. Again, S ignored him. His finger tightened against the trigger as the pope lurched forward, past a security man, smiling and waving at the crowd. Then, abruptly, S swung the rifle right, bringing the mesh of crosshairs full on the gold pectoral cross of Rosario Parma, the cardinal vicar of Rome. S gave no expression, simply squeezed the trigger three times in rapid succession, rocking the room with thundering discharge and, two hundred yards away, showering Pope Leo XIV, Giacomo Pecci, and those around him with the blood of a man of trust.


Los Angeles. Thursday, July 2, 9:00 P.M.


"Harry, it's your brother, Danny…. I… don't mean to call you like this… after so much time…. But… there's… no one else I can talk to…. I'm scared, Harry…. I don't know what to do… or… what will happen next. God help me. If you're there, please pick up—Harry, are you there?—I guess not…. I'll try to call you back."


Harry Addison hung up the car phone, kept his hand on it, then picked it up again and pushed REDIAL. He heard the digital tones as the numbers redialed automatically. Then there was silence, and then the measured "buzz, buzz," "buzz, buzz" of the Italian phone system as the call rang through.

"Come on, Danny, answer…"

After the twelfth ring Harry set the receiver back in its cradle and looked off, the lights of oncoming traffic dancing over his face, making him lose track of where he was—in a limousine with his driver on a race to the airport to make the ten-o'clock red-eye to New York.

It was nine at night in L.A., six in the morning in Rome. Where would a priest be at six in the morning? An early mass? Maybe that's where he was and why he wasn't answering.

"Harry, it's your brother, Danny…. I'm scared…. I don't know what to do…. God help me."

"Jesus Christ." Harry felt helplessness and panic at the same time. Not a word or a note between them in years, and then there was Danny's voice on Harry's answering machine, jumping out suddenly among a string of others. And not just a voice, but someone in grave trouble.

Harry had heard a rustling as though Danny was starting to hang up, but then he had come back on the line and left his phone number, asking Harry to please call if he got in soon. For Harry, soon was moments ago, when he'd picked up the calls from his home machine. But Danny's call had come two hours earlier, at a little after seven California time, just after four in the morning in Rome—what the hell had soon meant to him at that time of day?

Picking up the phone again, Harry dialed his law office in Beverly Hills. There had been an important partners' meeting. People might still be there.

"Joyce, it's Harry. Is Byron—?"

"He just left, Mr. Addison. You want me to try his car?"


Harry heard the static as Byron Willis's secretary tried to connect with his car phone.

"I'm sorry, he's not picking up. He said something about dinner. Should I leave word at the house?"

There was a blur of lights, and Harry felt the limo lean as the driver took the cloverleaf off the Ventura Freeway and accelerated into traffic on the San Diego, heading south toward LAX. Take it easy, he thought. Danny could be at mass or at work or out for a walk. Don't start driving yourself or other people crazy when you don't even know what's going on.

"No, never mind. I'm on my way to New York. I'll get him in the morning. Thanks."

Clicking off, Harry hesitated, then tried Rome once more. He heard the same digital sounds, the same silence, and then the now-familiar "buzz, buzz," "buzz, buzz" as the phone rang through. There was still no answer.


Italy. Friday, July 3, 10:20 A.M.

FATHER DANIEL ADDISON DOZED LIGHTLY in a window seat near the back of the tour bus, his senses purposefully concentrated on the soft whine of the diesel and hum of the tires as the coach moved north along the Autostrada toward Assisi.

Dressed in civilian clothes, he had his clerical garments and toiletries in a small bag on the overhead rack above, his glasses and identification papers tucked into the inside pocket of the nylon windbreaker he wore over jeans and a short-sleeved shirt. Father Daniel was thirty-three and looked like a graduate student, an everyday tourist traveling alone. Which was what he wanted.

An American priest assigned to the Vatican, he had been living in Rome for nine years and going to Assisi for almost as long. Birthplace of the humble priest who became a saint, the ancient town in the Umbrian hills had given him a sense of cleansing and grace that put him more in touch with his own spiritual journey than any place he'd ever been. But now that journey was in shambles, his faith all but destroyed. Confusion, dread, and fear overrode everything. Keeping any shred of sanity at all was a major psychological struggle. Still, he was on the bus and going. But with no idea what he would do or say when he got there.

In front of him, the twenty or so other passengers chatted or read or rested as he did, enjoying the cool of the coach's air-conditioning. Outside, the summer heat shimmered in waves across the rural landscape, ripening crops, sweetening vineyards, and, little by little, decaying the few ancient walls and fortresses that still existed here and there and were visible in the distance as the bus passed.

Letting himself drift, Father Daniel's thoughts went to Harry and the call he'd left on his answering machine in the hours just before dawn. He wondered if Harry had even picked up the message. Or, if he had, if he'd been resentful of it and had not called back on purpose. It was a chance he had taken. He and Harry had been estranged since they were teenagers. It had been eight years since they'd spoken, ten since they'd seen each other. And that had been only briefly, when they'd gone back to Maine for the funeral of their mother. Harry had been twenty-six then, and Danny twenty-three. It was not unreasonable to assume that by now Harry had written his younger brother off and simply no longer gave a damn.

But, at that moment, what Harry thought or what had kept them apart hadn't mattered. All Danny wanted was to hear Harry's voice, to somehow touch him and to ask for his help. He had made the call as much out of fear as love, and because there had been nowhere else to turn. He had become part of a horror from which there was no return. One that would only grow darker and become more obscene. And because of it, he knew he might very well die without ever being with his brother again.

A movement down the aisle in front of him shook him from his muse. A man was walking toward him. He was in his early forties, clean shaven, and dressed in a light sport coat and khaki trousers. The man had gotten on the bus at the last moment, just as it was pulling out of the terminal in Rome. For a moment Father Daniel thought he might pass and go into the lavatory behind him. Instead, he stopped at his side.

"You're American, aren't you?" he said with a British accent.

Father Daniel glanced past him. The other passengers were riding as they had been, looking out, talking, relaxing. The nearest, a half dozen seats away.


"I thought so." The man grinned broadly. He was pleasant, even jovial. "My name is Livermore. I'm English if you can't tell. Do you mind if I sit down?" Without waiting for a reply, he slid into the seat next to Father Daniel.

"I'm a civil engineer. On vacation. Two weeks in Italy. Next year it's the States. Never been there before. Been kind of asking Yanks as I meet them where I should visit." He was talky, even pushy, but pleasant about it, and that seemed to be his manner. "Mind if I ask what part of the country you're from?"

"—Maine…" Something was wrong, but Father Daniel wasn't sure what it was.

"That would be up the map a bit from New York, yes?"

"Quite a bit…" Again Father Daniel looked toward the front of the bus. Passengers the same as before. Busy with what they were doing. None looking back. His eyes came back to Livermore in time to see him glance at the emergency exit in the seat in front of them.

"You live in Rome?" Livermore smiled amiably.

Why had he looked at the emergency exit? What was that for? "You asked if I was American. Why would you think I lived in Rome?"

"I've been there off and on. You look familiar, that's all." Livermore's right hand was in his lap, but his left was out of sight. "What do you do?"

The conversation was innocent, but it wasn't. "I'm a writer…"

"What do you write?"

"For American television…"

"No, you don't." Abruptly Livermore's demeanor changed. His eyes hardened, and he leaned in, pressing against Father Daniel. "You're a priest."


"I said you're a priest. You work at the Vatican. For Cardinal Marsciano."

Father Daniel stared at him. "Who are you?"

Livermore's left hand came up. A small automatic in it. A silencer squirreled to the barrel. "Your executioner."

At the same instant a digital timer beneath the bus clicked to 00:00. A split second later there was a thundering explosion. Liver-more vanished. Windows blew out. Seats and bodies flew. A scything piece of razor-sharp steel decapitated the driver, sending the bus careening right, crushing a white Ford against the guardrail. Bouncing off it, the bus came crashing back through traffic, a screaming, whirling, twenty-ton fireball of burning steel and rubber. A motorcycle rider disappeared under its wheels. Then it clipped the rear of a big-rig truck and spun sideways. Slamming into a silver-gray Lancia, the bus carried it full force through the center divider, throwing it directly into the path of an oncoming gasoline tanker.

Reacting violently, the tanker driver jammed on his brakes, jerking the wheel right. Wheels locked, tires shrieking, the enormous truck slid forward and sideways, at the same time knocking the Lancia off the bus like a billiard ball and sending the burning coach plunging off the highway and down a steep hill. Tilting up on two wheels, it held for a second, then rolled over, ejecting the bodies of its passengers, many of them dismembered and on fire, across the summer landscape. Fifty yards later it came to a rest, igniting the dry grass in a crackling rush around it.

Seconds afterward its fuel tank exploded, sending flame and smoke roaring heavenward in a fire storm that raged until there was nothing left but a molten, burned-out shell and a small, insignificant wisp of smoke.


Delta Airlines flight 148, New York to Rome.Monday, July 6, 7:30 A.M.

DANNY WAS DEAD, AND HARRY WAS ON HIS way to Rome to bring his body back to the U.S. for burial. The last hour, like most of the flight, had been a dream. Harry had seen the morning sun touch the Alps. Seen it glint off the Tyrrhenian Sea as they'd turned, dropping down over the Italian farmland on approach to Rome's Leonardo da Vinci International Airport at Fiumicino.

"Harry, it's your brother, Danny….".

All he could hear was Danny's voice on the answering machine. It played over and over in his mind, like a tape on a loop. Fearful, distraught, and now silent.

"Harry, it's your brother, Danny.…"

Waving off a pour of coffee from a smiling and pert flight attendant, Harry leaned back against the plush seat of the first-class cabin and closed his eyes, replaying what had happened in between.

He'd tried to call Danny twice more from the plane. And then again when he checked into his hotel. Still, there had been no answer. His apprehension growing, he'd called the Vatican directly, hoping to find Danny at work, and what he'd learned, after being passed from one department to another and being spoken to in broken English and then Italian and then a combination of both, was that Father Daniel was "not here until Monday."

To Harry that had meant he was away for the weekend. And no matter his mental state, it was a legitimate reason why Danny was not answering his phone. In response, Harry had left a message on his answering machine at home, giving his hotel number in New York in the event Danny called back as he said he would.

And then Harry had turned, with some sense of relief, to business as usual and to why he had gone to New York—a last-minute huddle with Warner Brothers distribution and marketing chiefs over this Fourth of July weekend's opening of Dog on the Moon, Warner's major summer release, the story of a dog taken to the moon in a NASA experiment and accidentally left there, and the Little League team that learns about it and finds a way to bring him back; a film written and directed by Harry's twenty-four-year-old client Jesus Arroyo.

Single and handsome enough to be a movie star, Harry Addison was not only one of the entertainment community's most eligible bachelors, he was also one of its most successful attorneys. His firm represented the cream of multimillion-dollar Hollywood talent. His own list of clients had either starred in or were responsible for some of the highest-grossing movies and successful television shows of the past five years. His friends were household names, the same people who stared weekly from the covers of national magazines.

His success—as the daily Hollywood trade paper Variety had recently put it—was due to "a combination of smarts, hard work, and a temperament markedly different from the savagely competitive young warrior agents and attorneys to whom the 'deal' is everything and whose only disposition is 'take no prisoners.' With his Ivy League haircut and trademark white shirt and dark blue Armani suit, the Harry Addison approach is that the most beneficial thing for everyone is to cause as little all-around bleeding as possible. It's why his deals go through, his clients love him, the studios and networks respect him, and why he makes a million dollars a year."

Dammit, what did any of that mean now? His brother's death overshadowed everything. All he could think of was what he might have done to help Danny that he hadn't. Call the U.S. Embassy or the Rome police and send them to his apartment. Apartment? He didn't even know where Danny lived. That was why he had started to call Byron Willis, his boss and mentor and best friend, from the limo when he'd first heard his brother's message. Who did they know in Rome who could help? was what he had intended to ask but hadn't because the call had never gone through. If he had, and if they had found someone in Rome, would Danny still be alive? The answer was probably no because there wouldn't have been time.


Over the years how many times had he tried to communicate with Danny? Christmas and birthday cards formally exchanged for a short while after their mother's death. Then one holiday missed, then another. Finally nothing at all. And busy with his life and career, Harry had let it ride, eventually accepting it as the way it was. Brothers at opposites. Angry, at times even hostile, living a world apart, as they always would. With both probably wondering during the odd quiet moment if he should be the one to take the initiative and find a way to bring them back together. But neither had.

And then Saturday evening as he'd been in the Warners New York offices celebrating the huge numbers Dog on the Moon


On Sale
Nov 16, 2008
Page Count
576 pages