Set in Pennsylvania, this gripping, timely novel portrays three charismatic men whose deeply ingrained Catholicism doesn't assuage their feelings of guilt and self-doubt. Kevin Murray, Pat Carney and Vince Grosso meet and become friends at Villanova University in the mid-'60s. Years later, Kevin is a state representative known for his irreverent wit, integrity and vehement pro-life stance. He serves every constitutent tirelessly, yet is remorsefully aware that he gives little time to his harried wife. Pat, a priest, habitually dodges responsibility and behaves selfishly to expedite his rise in the church's hierarchy. These weaknesses pain him and destroy his widowed father, who dies because of Pat's neglect. Vince, Pennsylvania's Mafia chief, savagely intimidates or slaughters his foes, though he agonizes after harming decent people. When Vince blackmails Kevin to coerce him into backing a bill, the crisis that ensues envelops all three men, testing their wills and convictions. Woven into this compelling saga are such thought-provoking subjects as the abortion controversy and varying attitudes toward Catholicism. Freind presents these topics insightfully and leaves readers with much to ponder. 100,000 first printing; $100,000 ad/promo. (May 22)
A long, skillfully written novel of three Villanova college friendsKevin Murray, Vincent Grosso, and Patrick Carneywho live controversial criss-crossing lives in government, crime, and the church. Like author Freind, Murray is an articulate lawyer, a former FBI agent, a popular Pennsylvania legislator and a father of six children. Grosso, also a successful lawyer, becomes the ruthless, ambitious Don of the Philadelphia Mafia. And Carney is the priest who sacrifices any personal commitment in his ambition to become the first American Pope. Freind is an excellent descriptive writer who has captured the nostalgic poignancy of remembered childhood, the tragedy of losing family members, and the gruesome violence of Cosa Nostra crime and vengeance. For the most part Freind has also avoided the polemical in his detailed sections describing Murray's antiabortion efforts. On a par with the novels of Mario Puzo or Andrew Greeley.Jean B. Palmer, Andover, Mass.