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The Secret Cardinal


The Secret Cardinal

Nolan Kilkenny’s father asks him to travel to Rome to work as
a consultant for Malachy Donaher, his dad’s oldest and
dearest friend, Nolan suspects that the request is actually an
attempt to help him snap out of his grief. Over the past two months
Kilkenny has suffered great losses --- his wife, his unborn child
--- and his faith. Since the deaths of his wife and son, he has
buried himself with work, so he welcomes the change of scenery from
his lonely house in Ann Arbor, Michigan, to the vibrant city of
Rome, Italy.

Malachy Donaher is more than Kilkenny’s godfather and his
father’s best friend; Donaher is the Cardinal Librarian of
the Holy Roman Church, and he holds another secret and critical
position inside the Vatican. And Donaher’s request for
Kilkenny’s help is for more than Kilkenny’s technical
expertise in information management. When Cardinal Donaher takes
Kilkenny to meet with Pope Leo, the real purpose of his visit is

The ailing Pope is disheartened over the persecution and deaths of
Roman Catholics in China, especially after a deliberately set fire
in a theater that killed more than 500 Chinese Catholics. The Pope
is also deeply concerned about the fate of Yin Daoming, an
underground priest who was instrumental in holding the Catholic
community together during the Chinese Cultural Revolution. Yin, a
devout and humble Jesuit and the Bishop of Shanghai, has been
imprisoned for decades for refusing to denounce the Roman Catholic

During Kilkenny’s meeting, Pope Leo confides that he has made
Yin Daoming a cardinal “in pectore” (in his
heart) over 20 years earlier. The Pope enlists Kilkenny’s
assistance as an ex-Navy Seal to rescue Yin from the
heavily-guarded Chinese prison so the Pope can publicly announce
Yin’s elevation to Cardinal within the Roman Catholic

With covert assistance from the President of the United States, the
CIA and volunteer members of the Special Forces, Kilkenny assembles
a courageous and committed team that uses the latest high-tech
equipment to execute their mission, which is put at risk after the
death of Pope Leo. The stakes are raised as the Congress of
Cardinals assembles in conclave to elect the next Pope, and time
becomes a critical factor.

The lives of Kilkenny’s team, as well as the secret cardinal
and faithful Roman Catholics in China, are jeopardized after the
Chinese receive detailed information about the rescue attempt from
someone on the inside.

Tom Grace has written an intelligent and intriguing thriller with
characters worth rooting for and a welcome twist --- no gratuitous
sex or over-the-top violence. The deftly plotted novel gives a
close-up view of the inner workings of the Vatican in electing a
Pope, along with a dazzling display of the latest high-tech
military hardware and software. THE SECRET CARDINAL is a
suspense-filled work of fiction about faith, hope, sacrifice and
forgiveness, and a story that shows what precious gifts faith and
freedom really are.

Reviewed by Donna Volkenannt ( on February 24, 2011

The Secret Cardinal
by Tom Grace

  • Publication Date: August 5, 2008
  • Genres: Fiction, Thriller
  • Mass Market Paperback: 304 pages
  • Publisher: Vanguard Press
  • ISBN-10: 1593154844
  • ISBN-13: 9781593154844