THE KILLING CUP by Peter Van Greenaway


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Van Greenaway's second go (the first: The Judas Gospel, 1972) at the papacy, ecclesiastic and secular chicanery, and artifacts of mythic importance, this time with the Yard's Cherry and Duff on the case. The Deodati Treasure--an early altar housing the St. Foy tooth, a Giotto triptych, a Cellini secret compartment, and (perhaps) the Cup of the Last Supper--is up for auction at Peachum's of London, consigned there by the Marchesa, who whisked it out of Italy after first embarrassing the Roman clergy and their ""miracle"" diviner, who examined a fake and pronounced it holy. Safrik Sarinan, the man who delivers the altar (for a commission) insists that he was followed and showily moves from hotel to hotel to rented flat to a self-engineered stay in jail--for his protection, he insists. Meanwhile, his overacting and an anonymous call from Rome whet Cherry's interest. Safrik is followed to Buonaventura Securities Holdings, owned by champion do-badder Luigi Morisco. Is the Cup still intact? The altar? Auction day turns up a bomb scare just as bids reach 20 million, and the premises are emptied. A short car-chase soon ends everything: the altar, the cup, several lives, and Cherry's brief career as a Peachum's security man dressed in breeches, knee buckles, and a wig. The Cherry/Duff byplay is exquisite, and Van Greenaway's writing remains top of the line. In all: thoughtful, nonformulaic, drily amusing about Cherry's romantic stirrings.

Pub Date: May 1st, 1988
Publisher: Victor Gollancz--dist. by David & Charles