Picks and Pans Review: Holy Wars

updated 07/04/1983 AT 01:00 AM EDT

originally published 07/04/1983 AT 01:00 AM EDT

by James Brady

A gossip columnist and editor who now works for Advertising Age, Brady is also a prolific novelist who always goes for the trendy subjects, as in Paris One. This new novel has a priest as its hero. Are priests the last men in our society who are supposed to live by some code? Did The Thorn Birds make priests suddenly sexy? In a most implausible series of events, the hero undergoes conversion to Catholicism at Harvard (of all unsanctified places), joins the Marines and fights in Vietnam. When he finally does become a priest, he is sent as a missionary to a Latin American country where he leads the rebels in battle. A book he writes about his adventures upsets the church, and he's summoned to the Vatican. A new magazine reporter in Rome describes the hero: "He's written a best-seller, he's got a rich old man, he's articulate, he's a matinee idol in a clerical collar." He's also having long, banal conversations with the Pope, a Polish strongman who doesn't seem to realize that the young Jesuit firebrand is falling in love with a beautiful Italian countess. His tramp of a sister becomes a saint, an idiot cures his stepmother of cancer, and Italian terrorists want to have the hero on their side. Curiously, this mess turns out to be fast-paced and, for short stretches, fun to read—despite its verbless sentence fragments and muddled ideas. Too bad it suffers so acutely from so many sins against common sense. (Simon and Schuster, $15.95)

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