AN ACT OF GOD by Charles Templeton


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Solid craftsmanship and tasteful, respectable writing should help to gloss over one or two mighty implausible moments as N.Y. Cardinal Michael Maloney (a strong prospect for Pope in the next election) wonders what to do about his old friend Harris Gordon. Harris, you see, is an archaeology prof (reluctantly emeritus) who has just entrusted Michael with his huge secret: Harris has discovered the grave of Jesus, complete with skeleton and evidencing ancient scroll. As Harris works steadily at piecing together the bones and hammering out a world-shaking manuscript (Michael has given him room-board-and-lab in his priestly townhouse), Michael, though sure that Harris is mistaken, worries and worries. ""The very bones! . . . Would it not make a mockery of Easter? . . . Consider the scorn that will be vented. . . He could not allow Harris to loose his lie in the world!"" So Michael plans to kill Harris (who's vulnerably diabetic), and though he loses nerve at the final murder moment, Harris does die. The subsequent guilt, of course, is staggering--aggravated by a persistent cop's investigation into Israel's complaints about the late Harris Gordon's unlawful removal of unspecified artifacts. By the time that the cop (who's engaged to Michael's nice but unstable niece) closes in on the bones (Michael hid them), it's Pope election time, Michael has two deaths on his conscience, and he heads for a monastery. Shaky scenario, but executed with calm professional energy and only a shade too much religioso pomp.

Pub Date: March 29th, 1978
Publisher: Little, Brown