George McNulty, author of the new book “The Trieste Intrigue,” is a U.S. Naval Academy graduate with a MBA from the University of Chicago, who has traveled to more than 60 countries. McNulty has written for business and technical publications; however this is his first venture at historical fiction. He visited the Vatican, conducted business in Italy and Switzerland, and lived in England where action takes place.
It’s 1981, and with serious concerns about the conflicts within the Vatican hierarchy, President Reagan, returning to the White House from the assassination attempt on his life, selects Colin McHugh, an international businessman, to secretly advise the commandant of the Swiss Guard, the one man directly responsible for the safety of the pontiff, that a Russian plot to assassinate Pope John Paul II is imminent.
Unmasked by the Bulgarian cadre in Rome assigned to carry out the plot, McHugh discovers the identity of its leader and is also targeted for elimination. While the commandant bolsters the pope’s security and the Bulgarian cadre rehearses the assassin, McHugh, seeking information about the timing of the plot, evades kill attempts outside Rome, in Zurich and in the English countryside.
The following exchange shows the author’s deft hand with intrigue:
The Bulgarian observed his Stasi tablemate over the top of his glass, “Steiger, it was a skillful ploy to establish Ali Agca, as… what were your words? A crazy Turk…Why a Turk?
The German grinned. “He’s also a Muslim; and obviously the gods of Red Square want the event to be religious, not political.” He raised his glass, “Prost.”
The action moves swiftly, driven by a compelling cast: Claudette Arriaga, the airline stewardess with whom McHugh develops a personal relationship, helps him escape kill attempts outside Rome and in Zurich. Admiral Dan Stringer, deputy director of Reagan’s National Security Staff, shakes the power tree in Washington to support McHugh, his Annapolis classmate. Dimitar Botov, the young Bulgarian lad conscripted to work for the Bulgarian cadre, possesses detailed information that could foil the assassination. Kalina Lubanov, the seductive, but vicious Bulgarian agent, stalks McHugh, and Colonel Vic Vitucci, the Air Commando leader, aborts his stratagem to allow McHugh to do it his way. All play captivating roles in “The Trieste Intrigue” -- propelling the reader back into St. Peter’s square the afternoon of that shocking event on May 13, 1981.