A bonanza strike for those readers with a love for farcical comedies set in tight little islands of insular villages. Here the village follies (at the core they're more like canny community survival exercises than folly) are set in the Irish coastal village of Brulagh--``a lackluster gemstone set in an exquisite mounting...It looked best from a distance.'' After a career as a Vatican diplomat in Rome, Father Jerry O'Sullivan contemplates Brulagh--as well as his sunset post as a parish priest--with considerable wariness. But Fr. Jerry, who springs from pothole to pothole in his new Alpha Romeo, is in for anything but a stress-free initiation: he'll eventually find more Machiavellian plotting than he observed in Rome. First, there's trouble brewing when two ladies of the Legion of Mary claim that the statue of the Virgin--installed in a grotto with a blinding ever-lit neon halo--has become thrillingly animated. Then there's a longtime feud bubbling up again (over the naming of a stand) between the local politician, a grand boozer and womanizer (he's about to bed the hated banker's wife), and his rival, who prospers with post office and supermarket. And from urban blight in Blighty, a native son, trading guns, is being followed to Brulagh by two IRA goons. Plus there's the unpleasant revelation that others besides Fr. Jerry know that the uncle who sent him through the seminary was a maker of moonshine. All labyrinthine roads lead to a hideaway cottage on Festival Day: two shameless lovers, an errant boy and his Liverpool cronies, a brace of awful assassins, various police and soldiers, a weaselly maker of moonshine--and a brilliantly manipulating quartet who save the day. With a rave from novelist cousin Maeve Binchy, a first-rate comic novel in a familiar and popular genre.