Catholic priest Greeley tells a blarney-drenched tale of Cain and Abel on the Beltway.
The Moran brothers are Irish-Catholic to the core—but there the similarity ends. Father Tony is a priest for whom tolerance is an infallible sign of both weakness and error. Under his surplice beats a heart that’s hard not to think of as un-Christian. On the other hand, his sibling, Tom Cruise look-alike Tommy, a bestselling author and TV celebrity, is all warmth, gentle wit and endless compassion. Between the brothers, smoldering ill feelings flare up when the Illinois Democrats surprise Tommy by asking him to run for the US Senate. This enrages Father Tony: “You can’t be a good, practicing Catholic and be a Democratic senator,” he snarls, capping it with, “And besides you’re out of your depth.” Tommy bears up, reminding himself of a time when he adored his sibling, when they were kids, and husky, athletic Tony was his protection against large, predatory schoolmates. But Tommy’s wife, the brilliant, successful, high-profile and gorgeously red-haired lawyer Mary Margaret, will have none of that. “He has tried to throw a wet blanket on your life,” she informs her husband regularly. Against all political odds, Tommy beats the entrenched incumbent. In the Senate, he performs magnificently, wows all right-thinking observers. “My cute little Irish superhero,” gushes Mary Margaret. When he decides to run for reelection, the gobshites gang up on him. He’s a match for them all, including the ferocious Father Tony, who remains intractable until the end.
Slow and relentlessly cloying. The author (The Bishop in the Old Neighborhood, 2005, etc.) has done much better work.