September 17, 1984 12:00 PM

by Irving Wallace

Would you believe that Bernadette, the peasant girl who had visions at Lourdes in 1858, left a secret notebook saying the Virgin Mary was going to appear again on a certain date? When the church announces this event, the rush to get there is on. Among those seeking cures are: a rich American lawyer with cancer, a beautiful Italian actress who is blind, a Russian who is next in line for the top Soviet job but has muscular dystrophy, and a British woman who has had a miracle cure once but faces a renewed bout with her cancer. Also in the cast are the lawyer’s fiancée, who wants to prove it’s all silly, a beautiful tour guide at Lourdes who hatches a blackmail plot, an American reporter from Paris who will lose her job if she doesn’t get a big story, and a Basque terrorist who is going to blow up the grotto. The novel is hokum, full of excruciatingly researched details about Bernadette and deadly diseases. It is written in Wallace’s plodding prose (“Hurtado had never experienced such an ability to give wholly of the flesh from a member of the opposite sex”). But this is old Irv’s 14th novel, and most of his books wind up as best-sellers. Go to it, if you must. (Dutton, $17.95)

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