cover image Touch: Elmore Leonard

Touch: Elmore Leonard

Elmore Leonard. Arbor House Publishing, $17.95 (245pp) ISBN 978-0-87795-905-2

Turned down as a marketing problem because it couldn't be ""labeled'' 10 years ago, this novel will almost certainly be another of Leonard's big hits. He writes in the sparse, word-perfect prose style that distinguishes Glitz, Bandits and all his bestsellers to tell a tender, funny, suspenseful story. The hero, Charlie Lawson, once served as Brother Juvenal in a Catholic order; now he cares for alcoholics in a Detroit hospice. Charlie/Juvenal cures those he touches through miracles manifested by the Stigmata, the wounds of Christ that appear on Charlie's body. The phenomenon lures a flashy promoter, Bill Hill, aiming to get rich by exploiting the reclusive, gentle man who is also the intended prey of rabid right-winger August Murray. Murray plans to get the healer on his side, fighting against the ecumenism of Vatican II rules, especially the ones forbidding the Mass being said in Latin. Both Hill and Murray are losers when smart, attractive Lynn Faulkner and Charlie fall in love, before the astonishing finale that makes one believe the couple will live happily ever after. Major ad/promo; author tour. (September 21)