Jay Bonansinga, Author . Cemetery Dance $40 (339p) ISBN 978-1-58767-058-9

The influence of William Peter Blatty's The Exorcist saturates this tale of a self-doubting cleric hunting horrors in Washington, D.C., but Bonansinga (Black Mariah, etc.) works enough original variations on the theme for his tale to stand on its own. Ex-priest Martin Delaney, defrocked for botching an unsanctioned exorcism, has spent years wallowing in alcoholic self-pity when he crosses paths with former pupil Jimmy Dodd. Jimmy casually mentions some business clients who could use a spiritual house cleaning, and only after Delaney accompanies him under suspiciously secretive circumstances does he discover that their meeting was not by chance. The house in question is no less than the White House, possessed since its construction by a festering occult influence. Delaney's efforts to divine the spirit's motives in order to neutralize it ultimately dredge up a dark, forgotten moment in American history that adds an intriguing sociopolitical dimension to what might have been a routine occult creeper. Though the novel occasionally stretches credibility with outrageous plot twists, Bonansinga demonstrates confident control of its elements, moving briskly over holes in logic and deftly manipulating contemporary political paranoia to suspend the reader's disbelief. Above all, he paints a moving portrait of Delaney as a fallible man driven by his faith to courageously confront hell. The result is a suspenseful blend of political and supernatural thriller in which both an individual and a nation wrestle with their formidable demons. (Dec.)

Reviewed on: 11/18/2002
Release date: 12/01/2003
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