The explosive story begins in Washington and focuses on the most recent shipment of plutonium by Japan from Cherbourg to Nagasaki—a shipment that could produce three hundred Nagasaki-size bombs. A bizarre attack on His Holiness at the Vatican’s summer palace and the murder of a well-known cardinal in the Vatican hospital lead a much-loved and popular pope and an unloved and unpopular intelligence agency to form an unlikely joint venture to save a key priest at an obscure monastery near Kyoto. As readers, we are treated to a Japan no Westerner is permitted to see, and made privy to a Vatican initiative so daring it may not be revealed. The harrowing escapade of nuclear terrorists will succeed unless a handful of Americans and Japanese, aided by the Vatican, can discover who is behind the threat and stop them.
Wikipedia defines roman à clef (French for novel with a key) as “a novel about real life events that is overlaid with a façade of fiction. The fictitious names in the novel represent real people. The reasons an author might choose roman à clef format include writing about a controversial subject and/or reporting inside information (and) the opportunity to turn the tale the way the author would like it to have gone.”
Following service on COMSIXTHFLT STAFF in the Mediterranean, JOSEPH W. HARNED worked for Henry Cabot Lodge at the Atlantic Institute for International Affairs in Paris, and subsequently for Dean Acheson and Christian Herter at the Atlantic Council of the United States in Washington.