The Return: 9

Joe De Mers, Author Dutton Books $23.95 (416p) ISBN 978-0-525-94097-5
From recent novels, you'd think the Vatican was in the business of slaying souls, not saving them. Like Dan Cushman's Visitation (Forecasts, Jan. 18, 1995), this pseudonymous thriller--the 16th by the author but the first to be published under this pen name--depicts powers in Rome sending an assassin to deal with a troublesome problem. The problem here is a whopper: a man who claims to be ""Jesus Returned,"" and who seems to be performing miracles, including a modified version of the fish and the loaves and a resurrection of the dead, to prove it. When word of the new Jesus begins to spread, the Vatican hires a Sicilian hit man to halt his rising popularity and to end his diatribes against church corruption. In the U.S., meanwhile, some Catholics employ Brian Sheridan, a religious scholar working in a New York bookstore while on sabbatical from the priesthood, to trace the origins of the mysterious messiah. Sheridan hooks up professionally, then romantically, with Marie Olivier, a freelance journalist; together, the two slowly uncover the conspiracy behind Jesus Returned. De Mers's storytelling is competent, but a proliferation of subplots diffuses some of the suspense, and credibility is strained to the breaking point not only by the overwrought scenes of Vatican intrigue but also by the nature of the conspiracy. (Mar.)
Reviewed on: 03/04/1996
Release date: 03/01/1996
Mass Market Paperbound - 448 pages - 978-0-451-40729-0
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