NOW AND THEN, AMEN by Jon Cleary


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Australia's Inspector Scobie Malone (Dragons at the Party, etc.) quickly discovers that the dead nun on the whorehouse porch is the illegitimate granddaughter of Fingal Hourlgan, billionaire businessman, who barely knew her. Her mom Brigid paints sardonically anti-Catholic art; her uncle the Archbishop, who wants to be the Pope, is the Vatican's leading anticommunist; and the young nun herself was a Sandinista-supporting Nicaraguan missionary--one who may have uncovered a contra arms-smuggling plot and tried to warn billionaire Granddad, his business nemesis Sir John, and the Archbishop. The cleric uncle flees to Rome; Inspector Malone follows and is almost killed (for the second time); and, through flashback, Grandfather Hourigan's past emerges: he was a Capone go-fer/murderer. Meanwhile, we also learn of Sir John's past--as a young hustler; spurned suitor of Brigid; and murderer. Did a family member order the nun's death? Which is more powerful, the church or business? Can political clout buy a popedom? The resolution involves a state funeral, professional assassins, and discretion. Cleary's talented storytelling moves briskly along, successfully intertwining past and present histories, secular and political concerns. And Australia truly shimmers.

Pub Date: Feb. 17th, 1989
Publisher: Morrow