The Color of Blood

THE COLOR OF BLOOD chronicles three crucial days in the life of Bem. After an attempt on his life in which one of two would-be assassins dies instead, Bem is taken into “protective custody” by Christian radicals posing as government security police. He has, however, an urgent reason to escape: He has learned that two of his bishops plan to defy him by turning an upcoming saint’s festival into an antigovernment demonstration. The cardinal fears that such a move can only lead to violence and furnish an excuse for martial law. He alone has the power to prevent a tragedy.

Bem escapes, going underground and facing extreme danger. Resurfacing, he must cope with suspicion from all quarters, including some co-religionists who accuse him of petty careerism. As he sees it, however, the church’s mission is to save souls, not to become politically embroiled. Despite periods of self-doubt--can he be sure he is free of earthly pride and lust for power?--Bem’s faith gives him strength to deal surely and effectively with a broad spectrum of adversaries. Meanwhile, what of the surviving assassin?

The man of God at the center of the maelstrom is vividly portrayed; his true motives remain clearly in focus. The author does an especially good job of revealing Bem’s inner life during the three-day crisis. Despite the brevity of this tale, a panoply of other characters is also clearly drawn.