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The Books of John Van Roekel

Lorenzo's Assassin

Lorenzo’s Assassin

The Pope orders the devout Captain of his Apostolic Guard to assassinate Lorenzo the Magnificent.

But can he commit the murder when he discovers it must be done before the altar of Florence’s Duomo?

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Prisoner Moon

Prisoner Moon

Captured in France after D-Day, a young German soldier finds himself in a P.O.W. camp in Michigan, where he is confronted by a hardline Nazi sergeant attempting to cover up the mysterious death of a fellow prisoner.

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Braver Deeds

Braver Deeds

The epic story of a Buffalo Soldier and the Lakota Sioux girl he rescues at Wounded Knee.

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Paul Van Roekel

Paul Van Roekel

Read the World War II letters of John’s father, Paul Van Roekel.

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News from John

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Will no one rid me of this meddlesome priest?

June 9, 2017 7:40 am

When James Comey quoted King Henry II of England, I and many others recognized the reference. Henry was vexed by Thomas Becket, archbishop of Canterbury. Hearing these words, four of his knights promptly assassinated Becket. Afterwards, Henry claimed that he never meant for the archbishop to be killed.

I am not going to make a political point here. Rather, I am struck by the fact that King Henry did not escape punishment. Pope Alexander III forced him to do public penance at Becket’s tomb. Alexander also canonized Becket.

But what happens when it is the Pope himself who expresses a request without giving a direct order? This happened in 1477 when Pope Sixtus IV said of Lorenzo de’ Medici, “I’m telling you: I do not want anyone to die but I do want to change the state [of Florence].” The men who heard this organized what is known today as the Pazzi Conspiracy. The goal was to assassinate Lorenzo and his brother Giuliano.

This is the historical backdrop for my third novel, Lorenzo’s Assassin  Giovan Battista da Montesecco is the Captain of the papal Apostolic Guard and hears Sixtus’s words. The novel follows Giovan and Giuliano’s lovely mistress Fioretta Gorini during the year leading up to the final attack on the Medici brothers in the Duomo of Florence.

So what happened to Sixtus? The plot against the Medici precipitated a war, but it petered out. Sixtus reigned for another seven years and completed what we think of today as his most important legacy: The Sistine Chapel.

And what happened to Giovan and Fioretta? Read Lorenzo’s Assassin to find out.

Lorenzo’s Assassin is available in both paperback and Kindle formats on Amazon:

LORENZO’S ASSASSIN is San Diego Book Awards Finalist

May 18, 2017 2:29 pm

The San Diego Book Awards Association has been recognizing authors and their books for twenty years. I am very pleased that they have selected my latest novel, LORENZO’S ASSASSIN, as a finalist in the historical fiction category. The winners will be announced at the annual ceremony on June 10th.


Kirkus Review of Lorenzo's Assassin

February 9, 2017 9:39 am


Kirkus Reviews is a respected book reviewing service used by many publishers and authors. I just received their review of my latest novel, LORENZO’S ASSASSIN, and to my great relief, it’s pretty good.

“Intricate and gripping, the book keeps the reader racing along with Giovan and company all the way to the bloody end. An ambitious and engrossing tale of Renaissance Italy.”


John Signs Books at the Scripps Ranch Community Fair

June 8, 2017 4:03 pm

John will be signing (and selling) his books at the Scripps Ranch Community Fair.

Sunday, June 11
12 noon to 4:30

Alliant International University
10455 Pomerado Rd, San Diego, California 92131
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San Diego Literary Scene Interview

January 29, 2017 5:43 pm
The goal of the San Diego Literary Scene is to provide information about literary activity in the San Diego area from an independent source. Check it out.
I was interviewed on Thursday and it was a lot of fun: Part 1, Part 2.

More News

Black Heart Interview

Kirkus Review of Lorenzo’s Assassin

San Diego Literary Scene Interview

Screenplay for Prisoner Moon

SDSU Writers Conference