A detective story about the death and resurrection of Jesus? By Walsh, author of nine previous books (Into My Own: The English Years of Robert Frost; The Bones of St. Peter), etc. Implicitly cast as a fictional response (but one closely in accord with Gospel accounts) to Hugh Schonfield's The Passover Plot (1966), Walsh's story traces the path of one witness of Jesus' death from initial skepticism to acceptance of his resurrection. His detective is Nicodemus, the nighttime visitor to Jesus who, along with Joseph of Arimathea, had laid Jesus in the tomb and agreed to a guard of Roman soldiers. When he hears reports the following morning of Jesus' disappearance, Nicodemus impatiently assumes the women involved have made a mistake and gone to the wrong tomb or are part of some conspiracy. In order to set his mind at rest, he cross-examines the witnesses, studies footprints in the tomb, experiments with the stone covering the tomb, and draws a number of ingenious conclusions from different statements about the gravecloth. Readers looking for an imaginative fantasy like pastiches of Sherlock Holmes should be warned that Walsh's book is essentially a sober investigation--one that leads Nicodemus to conclude logically that Jesus was certainly dead when he was entombed and that he certainly appeared afterwards to a large number of witnesses. Before the problem of reconciling those two conclusions, he acknowledges, reason is helpless. Despite a few blemishes arising from Walsh's use of modern idioms (Jesus' manner is recalled as "down to earth yet sort of remote," and Nicodemus misses the Ascension partly because he gets stuck in traffic), his reworking of the story is surprisingly effective. Whether Nicodemus' conversion will extend to his audience is more doubtful.