From Publishers Weekly
If you crossed Eddie Murphy with the Lutherans of Garrison Keillor's Lake Wobegon, you'd get something very like Bowen's Gospel United Church. As another triennial conference rolls around in 1986, the characters of Church Folk are 23 years older, but not all of them are wiser. An election for church bishops promises politicking, corruption, and plenty of well-dressed people. The principal plot complication is a druglike concoction that is both addictive and aphrodisiac, giving the forces of corruption some entrepreneurial ideas. Bowen's got a good eye and a better ear, though it's a little hard to keep all the characters straight, since there's a mess of good guys, bad guys, and assorted wives, sons, and neighbors. Some conservative Christians may find it a bit too raunchy, but even some of those readers will find themselves laughing out loud at certain bits. Underneath it all are acute observations about African-American history and community. Readers who went to church with Bowen before will be delighted to return, and her choir should get bigger.
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After three ambitious and morally bankrupt bishops discover Watermelon Power 21, they enter into partnerships with criminal elements to raise enough money for a takeover of the next Triennial General Conference of the Gospel United Church in Durham, North Carolina. But WP21 is not just a potent male-enhancement supplement; it's seriously addictive and can be fatal if not taken properly. Reverend Denzelle Flowers (who's also an FBI agent) and the other decent preachers who want to end the corruption rampant throughout the church have their work cut out for them. Picking up in 1986, 23 years after the events detailed in Bowen's best-seller Church Folk (2001), this inspirational novel uses humor, local color, and vividly descriptive, if startling, language to good effect, ably demonstrating once again why Bowen is the queen of African American Christian fiction. An entertaining and timely look at the politics of religion, Bowen's latest sounds a call to action for members of all faiths. --Lynne Welch