Playing God

Barbara Whitehead, Author St. Martin's Press $14.95 (187p) ISBN 978-0-312-03910-3
This contemporary novel takes inspiration from but trivializes the medieval religious dramas still performed in historic York. As God, Tom Churchyard keeps suitably cool while elderly stagehand Sydney Absolom and everyone else fume over director Bruce Exelby's choice of punk-rocker Poison Peters to play Christ. During rehearsals, Exelby fires Sydney, whom he blames for attempts on the rocker's life. When someone kills the controversial director, fingers point at Sydney-- until he's murdered, too. Playing sleuth as well as the Deity, Tom takes an agonizingly long time to unveil the ``least-suspected.'' Unlike Whitehead's lauded Regency tales ( Ramillies ), this story offers caricatures archly identified by pseudo-Dickensian names in place of solid characters. It's frustrating, for example, to find nothing to support the alleged spirituality cloaked by Poison's degenerate persona. The story does appeal as a vivid evocation of the famed stage productions, but not as a mystery. (Dec.)
Reviewed on: 01/01/1988
Release date: 01/01/1988
Paperback - 317 pages - 978-1-84262-457-9
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