FEW things annoy Vatican officials more than lurid novels that depict the papacy as the secretive heart of a global conspiracy. Pope Benedict XVI’s most senior official, his secretary of state, Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, this month accused journalists of trying to imitate the American writer, Dan Brown, author of the preposterous—and bestselling—“The Da Vinci Code”. But it was not reporters who put the papal butler, Paolo Gabriele, in a four-by-four-metre cell, accused of leaking a stream of confidential letters. Nor was it they who, the next day, fired the head of the Vatican Bank, Ettore Gotti Tedeschi, and published a blistering statement accusing him of failing to do his job. An Italian police investigation, in which documents were seized from Mr Gotti Tedeschi on June 5th, has stoked fears of more scandal. He has since been quoted as saying he fears for his life.