Picks and Pans Review: Angels of September

updated 03/31/1986 AT 01:00 AM EST

originally published 03/31/1986 AT 01:00 AM EST

by Andrew M. Greeley

The Catholic priest continues to churn out his best-selling novels about Irish Catholics in Chicago with sacramental regularity. This one owes as much to Stephen (Carrie) King and William (The Exorcist) Blatty as it does to the church. First let it be said that Angels of September, like the Greeley novels that preceded it, is tasteless, silly, confused, lewd and tedious. The main character is an art gallery owner named Anne Reilly. We are told endlessly that, although she is past 50, a grandmother and has been much abused by the many men in her life, she is outrageously beautiful and sexy. We are also told again and again that she is intelligent, but there is no sign of intelligent life in her or anywhere else in this book. She suffers guilt because her sisters died in a school fire, her parents were killed in an accident and a boyfriend and a child died in unfortunate circumstances. The big exhibit in her gallery is of paintings done by a priest who went insane before he died. Supernatural events take place; some (a faithful secretary nearly freezes to death in a closet) are never explained. Lustful demons are unleashed in a freak storm. The heroine thinks about sex all the time, and when she finally gives in to her real love, Greeley's unintentionally comic skills come to the front: "Anne's reaction was first catlike languor and then ravenous passion. She became a tightly wound dynamo of sexual energies.... Her flesh craved unremitting foreplay the way an actress craved resounding critical praise." A priest named Blackie Ryan, who has figured in other Greeley novels, concludes that everything is the church's fault. Another privately held theory is that in Father Andy's case, the devil makes him do it. (Warner Books, $17.95)

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