The Unspeakable

Charles Laird Calia, Author William Morrow & Company $23 (224p) ISBN 978-0-688-15119-5
One priest must investigate the faith healings of another priest in this suspenseful, but schematic and ultimately frustrating, debut. Mysteriously mute since he witnessed an inexplicable deathbed recovery in a rural Pennsylvania hospital, Father Jim Marbury has done nothing to quell rumors that he can heal the sick. When the Bishop of St. Paul assigns Vicar Peter Whitmore to investigate Marbury's motives and discredit his supernatural claims, it's a reunion of sorts: years earlier, the two men attended seminary together in Iowa, where Whitmore viewed Marbury as something of a spiritual role model. As Whitmore struggles to determine whether Marbury is acting out of divine favor, vanity or madness, he finds himself falling increasingly under Marbury's spell, even confessing a secret from his past that, for years, has come between him and God. Calia broaches big and intriguing themes of religious doubt and the worldly concerns of the Catholic Church. The characters, especially Whitmore, are originally vivid, but Calia loses his grip on readers largely by making the critical event in Whitmore's past bear too much of the narrative and psychological burden. (Jan.)
Reviewed on: 12/29/1997
Release date: 01/01/1998
Paperback - 224 pages - 978-0-688-16710-3
Paperback - 978-0-688-16642-7
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