In a new vein, James Norman has created a character that can vie for honors with Father Malachy and Don Camillo. While still a spinner of tall tales (The Night- walkers and A Little North of Everywhere) he has a dry humor, a gift of satire, a warm sense of the foibles and the human quality of simple people- and it is this that makes Father Juniper's tilt with General Braga so beguiling. Father Juniper had been sent to Santiago de Gante, in Mexico, to try to bring peace out of a tangled situation, for the patron saint, an ancient wooden figure, had been appropriated by the General to lure tourists to his inn, once a mission convent. The people blamed all their misfortunes on the moving of their saint from the parish church. But getting it back was no sinecure, and Father Juniper mortgaged his own future and the church's --committed a few innocent sins -- let himself get involved in some of the machinations of his parisioners -- and finally accepted the authenticity of some little miracles before the goal was reached. It's an ingenious tale, without the political implications of Don Camillo or the doctrinal angles of Father Malachy's Miracle. But I thought it an enchanting book.