Not the straight adventure of The Crooked Road, but some of the mystique appliqued to his second novel Backlash for a search this time both in the present and in the past, in sentimental and in spiritual terms. For Blaise Meredith, a dim, gray priest, in the last few months left to him (he is dying of cancer) is appointed as Devil's advocate to establish the validity of the canonization of one Giacomo Nerone, who had died in a small Italian village during the war. It is hoped that Meredith, a severe and passionless man too withdrawn from ""the human family"" will find in his last mission that through being closer to people, he will thereby be closer to God. These weeks of inquiry bring him into contact with those who had known Nerone and guarded him (he was actually a deserter from the British army); there was the woman who had loved him and borne his child; the Contessa, vain and vicious since her rejection by Nerone; the homosexual artist who shares her home and wants to corrupt the son of Nerone, a beautiful young boy; etc., etc. As Meredith conducts his search, he finds in the example of Nerone a lesson in love both given and received, and for himself acceptance of the death he faces now that he has found a meaning in life beyond the austerity of canon and dogma.....Never a subtle writer, West makes his approach to timeless truths (and truisms) at a strictly popular level, includes some sex and much emotion, but has his elements of enigma and drama well in hand.