A novel that opens with the enforced prostitution of five American nuns in the far East can be said to have something extra going for it quite apart from whatever approach the author chooses to take. But Rooney's direction might be called ""up from sensationalism"" for he has written a hard-driving, strong book about a spiritual search and the workings of God's grace in the most abject of circumstances, (c.f. vintage Graham Greene). The narrative focuses on the Church's investigation of the five nuns and of one in particular, Margaret Westlake, who leaves her Order and returns to the scene of her dishonor as a doctor and eventually as a ""traitor"" to her country. Rooney's settings are in themselves seats of corruption--Vietnam, Los Angeles and Rome. And his view of ecclesiastical administration makes Morris West look like a P.R. man. His story, however, remains a compelling one in spite of the fact that its very real impact is often offset by his dense and oblique dialogue.