Review of THE BISHOP IN THE WEST WING by Andrwe M. Greeley
A BLACKIE RYAN STORY
FORGE, July 2002
When newly elected President Jack McGurn (a Chicago Democrat, Catholic, and liberal) finds his white house apparently haunted by a poltergeist, he calls on his Church for help. The Cardinal of Chicago sends his trusty associate Bishop, Blackwood (Blackie) Ryan to sort things out. Once he reaches the white house, however, Ryan learns that there is more going on than just an apparently harmless poltergeist. The evil Republicans are willing to do anything to get rid of this Democratic President, his own Vice President won't talk to him, and the death of his wife prevents McGurn from finding a healthy relationship with women. Meanwhile, a civil war in China threatens to draw the world into a nuclear holocast.
Blackie has his work cut out for him. Fortunately, he has the help of McGurn's two teenaged daughters, a beautiful deputy chief of staff (who just might be in love with the President), and a sister who happens to be an expert in poltergeist behavior. Battling conservative Christians, including the local Archbishop, Blackie supports his friend, does damage control on the rumors of sexual misbehavior that (falsely) plague the president, and helps preserve world peace.
Author Andrew M. Greeley (see more BooksForABuck.com reviews of novels by this author) is a wonderfully talented writer and Bishop Blackie, with is ratty White Sox jacket and inability to keep track of his ring of office, is simultaneously sympathetic and quietly noble. Greeley fans won't be surprised to find that, as usual, women dominate the men around them, occasionally allowing their men to have the illusion of any control over their lives (could this attitude explain why Greeley became a priest???). This isn't all bad, however, and Greeley delivers some nicely sympathetic and attractive female characters.
The politics in THE BISHOP IN THE WEST WING are a little heavy. McGurn is a liberal democrat and Blackie (and presumably Greeley) is quite sympathetic to these views. Still, some of McGurn's ideas (like a congressional override of the Supreme Court which might be popular with some Democrats after what they see as the stealing of the 2000 election) are frightening to anyone who has concerns for civil rights or a fear that congress can get railroaded into anything. The idea that a politician could be elected Governor based on asking for higher income taxes seems stretched, but not impossible and certainly in keeping with a Priest who has taken a vow of poverty.
In some ways THE BISHOP IN THE WEST WING can be seen as a Clinton done right. The loving assistant is there, but she is age appropriate rather than a young intern. The President is conveniently single rather than married. I found the stained dress parallel a little much, but some readers may get a kick out of it.
All of Greeley's THE BISHOP novels are enjoyable and THE BISHOP IN THE WEST WING certainly will not disappoint fans of the series.
Purchase THE BISHOP IN THE WEST WING from Amazon.com (hardback).