The Case of the Deadly Ring: An Alexander Steele Investigation
He found himself saying “No way.”
Not realizing that Leroy could hear him Leroy answered “Yeah, he’s standing right in
front of me. Should I send him in?” Steele instructed Leroy to keep the stranger at the front
door until he got there.
The well dressed, middle aged man wore a beige suit, white shirt and yellow tie. He
looked to be in his late fifties. Strains of gray sparkled throughout his brown hair. They were
most noticeable in his sideburns.
The two men meet in front of the club. Steele greeted the well dressed man with a firm
handshake. “Thank you for agreeing to meet with me Mr. Steele.”
Steele had never been to Italy but as a young boy growing up in South Philly his father
used to take him to the Italian market on Saturday mornings. Based on the man’s strong accent
and the style of his tailor made suit Steele had already begun sizing up his new visitor.
“I am in need of your services. I have been told that you can be discreet. Oh, please
The man reached in his back pocket, pulled out a white card from his wallet and handed it
to the detective.
“I am here of official business” he explained.
Steele noticed the seal of the State of Vatican City in the top left hand corner. It was
round embossed tiara resting in the center of two keys however the rest might as well been
written in Arabic. He struggled in his clumsy attempt to read the card aloud
“Corpo della Gendarmeria dello Stato della Città del Vaticano.”
Realizing he had hand Steele the wrong side the man was quick to flip the card over
where it was written in English. It read:
Gendarme Corps of Vatican City State
Vatican City, Rome
Steele smiled and shook his hand again.
“Well, well, Vatican secret service, it’s a pleasure to meet you Mr. DiBona. You’re a
long way from home. How did you hear about me?” Mr. Julius DiBona raised his finger to the
“From your counterpart up north, your friend detective Al in Montreal recommended
you. He speaks very highly of you and your skills.”
Steele suggested they go to his place where they could talk in private. A hundred
questions raced through his mind as the two men walked to his car. He knew this would not be
an ordinary case.
Once the men were inside Steele’s house Julius showed Steele a photo of a gold ring
sitting on top of a white sheet of paper the size of a 3x5 card with a single phone number written
on the bottom corner. At the top of the picture in the background was a copy of the Philadelphia
Inquirer dated last week.
After giving him a few moments to examine the image he asked, “Mr. Steele are you
familiar with this ring?”
Steele nodded that he was not. Julius paused then spoke in a somber voice, “this is the
Anello Piscatorio, the Ring of the Fishermen” he explained. “To be more precise this ring
belonged to Pope John Paul I. You see a new gold ring is cast with each new pope’s Latin name
in raised letters around the upper rim. John Paul’s papacy ended abruptly in September 1978
after serving only 33 days. There are those among us who suspect foul play. The ring is also