The German occupation of the Eternal City has ended, the war in Europe is over, the Bomb has yet to fall on Japan, and Rome is under the jurisdiction of the victors- The American , British, and French Allied Control Commission. An American Vatican prelate and lawyer, Brendan, is involved in two crusades. With his horror of capital punishment, he means to avert the execution of the Nazi collaborator Pietro Koch. As Devil's Advocate, Doherty intends also to prove the hypocrisy of Alessandro Serenelli, the man who, forty years before, murdered the child martyr, Maria Goretti, who is soon to be canonized. Converted by a vision, Serenelli has spent his life, in prison and out, promoting the beatification of his victim. Both angry and compassionate- a moral street fighter for what he is sure right- Doherty is also burdened by guilt, feeling that he did too little to save the city's Jews from Auschwitz. He engages in his causes and quarrels with Rome's pre-dolce vita postwar society, people both fictional and - like Alessandro Serenelli, Maria Goretti, Pietro Koch, Pius XII, and film director Luchino Visconti- historical; until, with Koch dead, the priest comes to a reckoning with himself and with the serene, unshakable saint-maker Serenelli.--From front and back book jacket flaps.