There’s never been an American Pope.

How might that change the world?

An unpopular pope dies while touring the Holy Land on the same day two obscure country priests exchange places six thousand miles and eight time zones away. Neither they nor the Church of Rome will ever be the same.

The priests become entangled in mysteries of murder, duplicity, and hush-money as cardinals from around the world gather to elect a new pontiff. A connection between the Vatican’s Sistine Chapel and the abandoned Paradise Hotel in a small Midwestern city seems inconceivable, and yet bodies discovered there will determine who becomes the next pope.

The Seal of Confession becomes more than an amusing pun in the murderous circus enveloping the Vatican and a distant church whose confessional is breached. Those in search of forgiveness find instead blackmail and extortion.

Why did a murdered Indian woman trapped in the Chicago sex trade have a one-way bus ticket home to her reservation? Was it suicide or murder in the Paradise Hotel? Why is someone in the Vatican willing to pay for silence?

Answers can be found in two wooden boxes, one the confessional and the other a coffin in an isolated churchyard near an Indian reservation. An Accidental Pope is not so much a Whodunit? as a How did it happen? A police detective and his amateur sleuth wife uncover much that is hidden, but only the reader will know the whole story of how the Chair of St. Peter came to have its accidental occupant.

If you believe that those who exalt themselves will be humbled and those who humble themselves will be exalted, this is the novel.


James Casper was born and grew up in southern Minnesota. Apart from living in various Minnesota locales, he has resided in Boston, St. Louis, eastern Tennessee, and London, England where he finds inspiration walking along the Thames. He and his wife of twenty-four years have traveled extensively. Rome is one of their favorite places.

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