Picks and Pans Review: One More Sunday

updated 05/14/1984 AT 01:00 AM EDT

originally published 05/14/1984 AT 01:00 AM EDT

by John D. MacDonald

The head of a vast evangelical empire in the South is senile, dying of untreated diabetes. His son has taken over the preaching on national television, his daughter runs the choir. Money rolls in. Besides the huge church, they have a shopping mall, movie theaters, motels, lawyers, a business adviser and hundreds of employees and security guards. A young woman reporter has come to investigate, and she has disappeared. Her husband follows—and he won't give up. There is something about evangelists that has fascinated many popular novelists, from Sinclair Lewis (Elmer Gantry) to Harold Robbins (Spellbinder) to Tommy Thompson (Celebrity). Now MacDonald, creator of the Travis McGee series of detective novels, has tried his hand with this big, melodramatic mistake. The story and most of its characters seem uncomfortably familiar. MacDonald's treatment is on the dutiful side—only a genuine evangelist who appears at the end of the book, outraged at the charlatan's actions, brings the story to life for a few pages. MacDonald's McGee is one of the best fictional detectives in the business today. But this book, very much like his big, unwieldy Condominium of six years ago, is pretty much ho-hum. (Knopf, $15.95)

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