Of Love and Evil
Chatto & Windus
Anne Rice is the original gangster as far as supernatural romance is concerned, her Vampire Chronicles setting the template for all the tormentedly sexy bloodsuckers who followed. A few years ago, however, she experienced a religious awakening which prompted her to write a series of dreadfully received novels about the life of Christ. Her latest saga sees her continue to work through the riddles of faith to generally underwhelming effect.
Toby O'Dare was a ruthless government assassin until seraphim convinced him to atone for his violent past. In Angel Time, his previous adventure, penance required him to battle superstition in Medieval England. Now he has to pose as a Jewish lutenist to solve a case of poisoning in 15th-century Rome. This he does in the wooden, haphazard style of a text-based adventure game (one finds oneself mouthing stuff like "Use lute on patient"). Worse are the soupy passages of angelic rapture ("I felt love around me in this vast and seamless realm of sound and light…"), suggesting that the peace that passeth understanding also exceeds the descriptive powers of a gothic novelist who has gone off the boil.