05/03/1993 at 01:00 AM EDT
by Andrew M. Greeley
The exposure of a pedophile priest in the Catholic Archdiocese of Chicago sets Greeley's 25th page-turner into motion. In his introduction, the priest turned novelist explains that he drafted his plot before a similar scandal shook the Chicago priesthood early last year. In any event, his novel trenchantly depicts the intricate machinations of an attempted Church cover-up.
If Greeley had stuck with this one theme he might have produced a potent and pertinent thriller. Unfortunately, too eager to titillate, he throws in wife-battering, adult homosexuality, Chicago politics, dysfunctional families, AIDS tests, bizarre bisexual sibling rivalry, alcoholism, the Mafia, satanic cults and, that old pulp standby, cold-blooded murder. This overloaded mix crushes credibility in a story already weakened by thin, implausible characters. (Putnam, $22.95)