Of Murder andrnMoralityrnby Alan ComettrnPublish & Perishrnby Sally S. WrightrnSisters, Oregon: Multnomah Books;rn300 pp., $9,99rnPride & Predatorrnby Sally S. WrightrnSisters, Oregon: Multnomah Books;rn300 pp., $9.99rnIn the alternative culture that hasrngrown around modern American religion,rnmusic stars such as Amy Grantrnhave commanded much attention. Disgustedrnb’ the filth that is popular music,rnteenagers are encouraged by well-meaningrnparents to listen to Grant instead of,rnsay. Madonna. Likev’ise, Frank Peretti isrnseen as a Ghristian substitute for megasellersrnlike Stephen King and Anne Rice.rnEver fad in popular culture seems tornhave its sanifized equivalent in a kind ofrnChrishan alternate universe.rnThe trouble with all of this is obvious.rnIt does not matter if you take out the dirtyrnwords and throw in a few references tornChrist: bad music is still bad music; badrnbooks are still bad books. Ghristianit)’rncannot produce substance when it is obsessedrnwith the transitor)’.rnIt was with this in mind that I approachedrnthese new mysteries by SallyrnWright. Published by Multnomah, arnChristian publisher on the West Coast,rnthese are the first in what is planned to berna continuing series. Christian mysteries:rnas my wife said, “Great, who stole thernchurch collection?” To my pleasant surprise,rnhowever, I discovered that Wrightrnhas given us intelligent, literate (and literary)rnadult Christian mysteries that followrnin the tradition of G.K. Chesterton,rnC.S. Lewis, Dorothy Savers, FlanneryrnO’Connor, and Russell Kirk.rnWright’s hero is Ben Reese, widowedrnWorld War II army intelligence veteranrnwho ser es as archivist at Alderton Universit}’rnin Ohio. Like most detectives,rnReese couples his keen powers of observationrnwith his equally strong deductivernabilities. Throw in a dash of being at thernright place at the right time, and yournhave the recipe for a detective series.rnBut Wright is not so shallow. Sherncrafts a complicated web of murders inrnboth of her mysteries and creates a crediblerncast of characters. Motives are generallyrnbelievable, as are Reese’s solutions.rnOf course formulaic structures are evidentrnin Wright’s novels, but Wright doesrnwell within the confines of her genre andrnproves her mettle as a writer.rnIn Publish & Perish, Ben Reese receivesrna mysterious call from a friend, thernchairman of Alderton University’s Englishrndepartment. The next day, thernfriend is found dead in his office, supposedlyrnfrom a heart attack, but Reesernsuspects foul play.rnAs Reese uncovers the mysteries surroundingrnhis friend’s death, Wright givesrna grand tour of university politics. Fromrnthe pathetic spinster French professor tornthe arrogant and defensive college president,rnWright’s characters could be foundrnat any modern university, and each hasrnplausible reasons to have murderedrnReese’s friend.rnOf the two books. Pride & Predator isrnthe better. Wright clearly draws fromrnsuch works as Russell Kirk’s The OldrnHouse of Fear for inspiration in this gothicrnnovel. Her mysterious island scenesrnand castie intrigues are indebted to thernlong line of Scottish literature. Set inrnScotiand, the book involves the murderrnof Jonathan MacLean, a parson. Nonernof the characters seems to have a clearrnmotive for the murder. But Wright doesrnwell in exposing hidden motives, andrnsoon Reese views everyone as a suspect.rnFortunately, these novels are notrnbogged down with didacticism. Wrightrnis content to bring out Christian principlesrnthrough the actions and attitudes ofrnher characters. We find villains motivatedrnbv real evil, but it is an evil motivatedrnby real-life temptation and desire. Andrnthis is the way that evil should be portrayedrnin literature. Evil is not alwaysrnugly and repulsive, but—all too often—rnattractive and seductive. While occasionalrnscenes may seem forced, Wrightrnsucceeds well in avoiding the preachyrnand predictable, and—most of all —therntrendy. As a good writer should, Wrightrnshows rather than tells.rnAlan Comett is the ministerrnof the Church of Christ in Lebanon,rnKentucky.rnLIBERAL ARTSrnPARTS IS PARTSrnIn October, “Doctor” Jack Keorkian, trying to put a positive spin on hisrndeath fetish, announced that he would begin donating organs harvestedrnfrom his suicide victims. According to the Associated Press, Kevorkian’srnlawyer, Geoffrey Fieger, annoimced that he would “make a liver and kidneysrnavailable . . . for donation on a first-come, first-served basis. . . .rnThere will be patients begging doctors for the kidneys and the livers thatrnI have available in my office,’ Fieger said.”rnWISE PERSONrn”Nouns: wise man, wise woman, sage, . . . Solomon, Socrates, Plato,rnMentor, Nestor, Confucius, Buddha, Gandhi, Albert Schweitzer, MartinrnLuther King, Jr. . . .”rn—from Roget’s International Thesaurusrn(HarperCollins; fifth edition, 1992)rnFEBRUARY 1998/29rnrnrn