As the figure in the lite of Jesus most prominent in history, Pontius Pilate has had a special attraction for those interested in the subject but uncomfortable with religious accounts. James Mills, a California legislator, picks up Pilate in exile in Gaul 30 years after the crucifixion. That Rome has just decided to wipe out Christianity prompts him to write down what he knows of the origins of the sect. Involved is more than just the data coming to mind from his own experience as procurator and the background material gathered to cope with the job. Because of his personal part in the drama, acquaintances and strangers both have kept him in touch with developments in the Christian story, and much incidental information has come his way. Mills has caught the tone of voice for the retired colonial officer whose interest in the special qualities of his natives, their virtues and idiosyncrasies, is still heightened by memory of the responsibilities he bore and by the sense that his neck as well as his career was at stake. Occasionally the reader feels that incidents from the gospels are being forced into the narrative, but tn general the author's well-digested store of Roman and Jewish history enables his Pilate to speak comfortably in character as he tells what he knows of the life of Jesus against its background. In an O. Henry twist at the end, the author tips his hand and makes the book acceptable to the orthodox. A fresh and not too demanding presentation.