Bible smuggling in the days of Henry VIII is the topic of this reticent though admirably researched demi-adventure. Tom Barton, who is given reason to expect that he is the rightful owner of his Uncle Jack's ship The Black Pearl, is drawn into a plan to smuggle William Tyndale's English translation of the New Testament. After Uncle Jack is arrested and thrown into Clink where he dies of the Black Plague (the enigma of his personality still unresolved), Tom finds himself forced into accepting a business partnership with ratlike Herbert Belsey and fanatical Henry Phillips, two of Tyndale's most determined enemies. Most of the characters (though not the Bartons) are historical; however the appearance of Juan de Palos, Christopher Columbus' pilot, on the Black Pearl's roster stretches plausibility a bit far. And the period background is full-bodied--right down to the pubs, populated appropriately by "gixies, fustylegs and drunken sailors." Certainly O'Dell writes well enough to integrate the non-violent flight and martyrdom of the saintly Tyndale with the original mood of raffish action/entertainment. Yet readers drawn by the adventure might balk at the more reflective turn of events after Tom fails to save his friend Tyndale, his involvement with Belsey peters out, and he eventually forgives the much chastened Phillips. Worthwhile, though the parts are more interesting than the whole.