cover image THE BISHOP IN THE WEST WING: A Blackie Ryan Story


Andrew M. Greeley, . . Forge, $24.95 (288pp) ISBN 978-0-312-86873-4

Fun is the word for bestseller Greeley's latest, lively Bishop Blackie (aka Blackwell) Ryan thriller. It's not a whodunit, but a hoodoo-done-it, the mystery being Who's the hoodoo? A poltergeist is stalking the corridors of the White House, threatening to embarrass the president, who's already confronting a fiercely divided Congress, accusations of sexual harassment and the threat of civil war in China. The press has dubbed President John Patrick McGurn "Machine Gun McGurn" and accused him of being a tool of the Chicago Irish Mafia. The far right view him as no less than Satan himself, being an Irishman, a Catholic and a liberal Democrat. There are rumors (which are true) of conspiracies to discredit McGurn and plots (also true) to take his life. Blackie receives an invitation to the White House from the president, who's an old friend. His cardinal orders him to go: "I baptized him, I officiated at his marriage, and I baptized his kids. I said his wife's funeral mass. Now that he is also president... it is unfitting, offensive, and intolerable that he be haunted by ungodly spirits." Known for his psychic gifts, Blackie has nine possible candidates for the intrusive spirit, including the president's daughters. Most likely the poltergeist is a young, troubled woman in need of love. Greeley dedicates the book to Bill Clinton, an obvious model for McGurn. Republicans may grumble, but plenty of others will appreciate the well-drawn characters, swift action and logical resolution. (July 25)

FYI: West Wing and its star, Martin Sheen, receive mention, along with a not unsubtle hint that Sheen would make a good Blackie Ryan. Greeley is also the author of Irish Stew! (Forecasts, Feb. 18) and other novels in the Nuala Anne McGrail series.