CHARISMA by Jo Bannister


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 Famous Welsh revivalist Michael Davey brings his wheelchair and carnival tent to Castlemere just in time for a pair of throat- slittings--of a teenaged streetwalker and an even younger girl riding her pony in Belvedere Park at daybreak. Davey's deceptively quiet assistant, Jennifer Mills, insists that crime rates fall wherever the preacher sets up shop, but the unpersuaded local police, noting a consistent rise in drug use just after his troupe leaves their latest digs, are keen to tie them in to the killings, especially after Sgt. Cal Donovan recognizes one of Davey's tentslingers as IRA stalwart Liam Brady, reported dead years ago. Donovan's pas de deux with Brady, who keeps threatening him but not killing him, gets even more tangled when Brady tips him off about a mob that's going to lynch a suspect the police questioned and released--a prediction that comes horrifyingly true--and when Donovan's superior, Inspector Liz Graham (dazzled by Davey's charisma? responding to his obvious interest in her?), starts spending enough time with the revivalist to merit an official rebuke. Donovan and Graham aren't any more interesting than in their debut (A Bleeding of Innocents, 1993), but they make interesting things happen throughout this tangy, gritty tale, whose most banal supporting character can flare into unexpected life in a single impassioned moment.

Pub Date: Sept. 14th, 1994
ISBN: 0-312-11252-1
Page count: 208pp
Publisher: St. Martin's
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1st, 1994


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