cover image Summer at the Lake

Summer at the Lake

Andrew M. Greeley. Forge, $24.95 (384pp) ISBN 978-0-312-86082-0

Despite having more than 30 novels under his clerical collar (many of them bestsellers), Greeley shows no signs of slowing down. His new romantic thriller is replete with his trademark steamy sex, complicated relationships and left-leaning church politics. The story opens when the three alternating narrators--childhood friends Leo, Jane and the recently ordained Patrick (""Packy"")--return, separately or by chance, to the scene of the car accident that wrenched them apart from each other. Thirty years earlier, two of their friends died and half a million dollars disappeared when their speeding LaSalle crashed into a tree and incinerated. The lives of all three have been unknowingly manipulated by undercurrents of treachery, resulting from class and ethnic jealousies among the wealthy Irish and Italian immigrants who have inherited the ""sprawling Victorian homes with their gables and turrets and porches and balconies"" of their native Chicago suburb. The rivalries run deep as Leo and the sexually liberal Father Packy both rediscover their passion for the newly divorced Jane. Can Leo uncover the truth about the crash without jeopardizing their friendship and his chances of love with Jane, postponed for three decades? Some readers may be offended by the book's frank treatment of sex (a priest who links Christian caritas with sexual desire) or the Catholic lovers' none-too-subtle appropriation of religious terminology (""Super solemn high fuck""). But even lapsed Greeley devotees should be glad to find another novel cut from the good Father's customary cloth. Literary Guild, Doubleday Book Club and Mystery Guild selections. (June)