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John Desjarlais: short BIO 

A former producer with Wisconsin Public Radio, John Desjarlais teaches journalism and English at Kishwaukee College in northern Illinois. His first novel, The Throne of Tara (Crossway 1990, 2000), was a Christianity Today Readers Choice Award nominee, and his medieval thriller, Relics (Thomas Nelson 1993, 2009) was a Doubleday Book Club Selection. Bleeder, Viper, and Specter (Chesterton Press, 2009, 2011 and 2015 respectively) constitute the 'Higher Mysteries' series.Blood of the Martyrs (2012), a short story collection, is available at Amazon Kindle Select. A member of Mystery Writers of America, he is listed in Who's Who in Entertainment and  Who's Who Among America's Teachers.

Media Release
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Mystery Novelist Pursues True Crime


            In the tradition of Arthur Conan Doyle and Edgar Allen Poe, mystery novelist John Desjarlais is out to solve a true crime: the 1993 murder of the Cardinal of Guadalajara.

            According to Desjarlais, the Vatican recently re-opened the case, no longer convinced the cleric was accidentally gunned down in the crossfire of rival drug gangs at the international airport where the Cardinal was going to greet the papal nuncio. Church officials believe he was targeted by the emerging cartels with the possible cooperation of the Mexican government.

            The Cardinal had been openly critical of the government’s treatment of the poor and its alleged collusion with the drug business. His phones were tapped, his priests harassed, his car followed, and his apartment burglarized.

            “The circumstances of the murder were curious,” Desjarlais says. “The official story was that one cartel leader tried to kill his competitor but mistook the Cardinal’s car – a Grand Marquis – for the intended target who also drove a Grand Marquis, but a different color. It might be dismissed as simple confusion, but the Cardinal was over 6 feet tall and the cartel leader was short; the Cardinal was dressed in full regalia with a large pectoral cross and could not have been mistaken for the drug dealer. Afterwards, the crime scene was cleaned, not processed, by state police who were waiting at the airport in large numbers. Surveillance tapes disappeared. Parking lot attendants had been dismissed early. All witnesses were shot immediately or poisoned over the next few years.”

            The Cardinal’s successor was also poisoned when he claimed to have new evidence linking the government to the assassination. He survived.

            When a conservative came to the Mexican presidency in 2003 and re-opened the investigation, the former president fled the country for Cuba. His attorney general remained and wrote a 600-page book defending his actions and accusing the Vatican of laundering money for the cartels.

            “That’s when the Vatican reopened the case,” Desjarlais explains.

            The DEA and FBI closed the case in 2008 after the kingpins of the two cartels involved were jailed and the San Diego gang members who were recruited to do the killing were arrested.                    
          “But the Vatican was worried that cartels had been using the Vatican Bank for money laundering. They believed the Cardinal of Guadalajara had evidence of this, and that he was planning to pass it along to Pope John Paul II via the Mexican nuncio. He was murdered, and his briefcase, containing the evidence, disappeared.”

            In Desjarlais’ fictional telling, The Holy See recruits Selena De La Cruz – the heroine of his earlier mysteries – to assist in the investigation. Her Papa, a former PEMEX oil executive and later a diplomat, may have had a part in the murder, resulting in his own death once thought to be a heart attack.

            “In digging up the facts,” Desjarlais says, “Selena uncovers a shocking family secret that could destroy the ones she loves most.”

            Desjarlais says his approach has been more like Poe’s investigation of the New York City murder of Mary Rogers in 1841.

            “Poe consulted newspaper accounts of the incident and the subsequent police investigation,” Desjarlais says. “Using those reports, he pieced together a solution he claimed was right – but it was wrong. Even so, he composed another great detective tale, The Mystery of Marie Roget, featuring his hero, Auguste Dupin.”

            Conan Doyle, on the other hand, had personally inspected the scene of a crime and uncovered evidence, Sherlock-Holmes-style, to successfully clear a man unjustly accused of maiming horses.

            Desjarlais’ novel, SPECTER, is due for release in Spring 2015 from Chesterton Press.

      A former producer with Wisconsin Public Radio, Desjarlais teaches journalism and English at Kishwaukee College. BLEEDER and VIPER, the first two entries in his contemporary mystery series, appeared in 2009 and 2011. A member of Mystery Writers of America, he is listed in Who's Who in Entertainment and Who’s Who Among America's Teachers.

            His web site is


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