THE TRINITY GAME by Sean Chercover (Thomas & Mercer), 425 pages, $24.95 cloth. Rating: NNN
In this entertaining thriller, Daniel Byrne - Catholic priest and investigator for the Vatican's secretive Office of the Devil's Advocate - has just received his new assignment: to prove that American TV preacher Tim Trinity, who speaks in tongues, is a con man.
The assignment is problematic for two reasons. Played backwards, the sections of Trinity's sermons spoken in tongues turn out to accurately predict the future. Plus, Trinity is Daniel's former guardian. He brought him up after his parents died, though Daniel ran away after realizing his caregiver was a rip-off artist.
Daniel's push-pull relationship with Trinity makes up the emotional guts of the novel, though an ex-girlfriend also shows up to make Daniel question his vow of celibacy.
The plot revolves around the interests threatened by Trinity's powers: Las Vegas casinos sure to lose money to people who take Trinity's tips seriously; the FBI, which wants Trinity out of the picture because he causes a riot everywhere he goes; and, of course, the all-powerful Vatican, determined to debunk the idea that Trinity is the new messiah.
When Daniel, assigned to assist in the Vatican's plan, realizes Trinity isn't interested in scamming anyone, he takes on a new mission to keep Trinity alive.
In Chercover's world, all the players have a touch of evil - the boys at the Vatican are particularly nasty - and he juggles the elements skilfully, bringing his locations to life (Atlanta and New Orleans, in particular) and keeping the suspense humming.
You can almost forgive him for not solving the essential mystery.
Chercover launches The Trinity Game at Dora Keogh Wednesday (August 1). See Readings.
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