Verdict: Saint Wally, unfortunately, misses the mark. Whatever points Taylor means to make get lost in the disjointed and sometimes rambling storyline.
After a man commits suicide, he teams up with a cast of familiar characters to save God and all of Creation.
Following Walter Matthews’ terminal illness diagnosis, he commits suicide to save his family and friends from having to deal with his eventual decline. While standing at the Pearly Gates waiting for Saint Peter—who’s more interested in watering his too-dry pot plant—to process him, Walter witnesses a theft. Not just any theft, a theft of Saints aka Surplus Morality. Saint Peter drags Walter off to see God and tell Him what he saw. After God heads off to track down the missing Saints, he’s kidnapped by none other than Lucifer, bolstered by his minions, L. Ron Hubbard and Osama bin Laden. With God out of the picture, it falls to the VP of Creation—Jesus H. Christ—to track down God and the missing Saints, thereby saving all of Creation, with the help of Walter and other recognizable characters.
Like a number of books before it, including Christopher Moore’s Lamb: The Gospel According to Biff, Christ’s Childhood Pal, Courtney Taylor’s SAINT WALLY intends to be not only social commentary, but a satirical and ironic look at religion and the role it plays for the human race.
Unlike its predecessors, SAINT WALLY, unfortunately, misses the mark. Whatever points Taylor means to make get lost in the disjointed and sometimes rambling storyline. The good-natured jabs are pulled from religious clichés—not unheard of, nor unexpected—but they never move beyond the commonplace. For example, when Saint Peter and Wally head up to God’s office following the theft Wally witnessed, God calls out before they even knock, “Come in! Unless you’re a Jehovah’s Witness!” Certainly a relatable thought, but there’s no new spin on the old joke, thereby lessening any impact it might have. Taylor also brings in some polarizing characters—Hitler and Osama bin Laden, to name a few—but their point-making potential is never fully realized. After a tense scene with a group of characters, including Saint Peter, Jesus, Walter, and Hitler, in God’s office poring over the Book of Life for information concerning a horse connected to Lucifer, the wrap-up narrative states: “Nobody knew what to say—least of all Hitler, who wanted to crack a mood-lightening joke but couldn’t think of one that wasn’t inappropriate.” It’s strange to let an opportunity pass for an inappropriate joke given that the entire premise of SAINT WALLY could be seen as inappropriate, not to mention using Hitler on the side of the good guys.
With deliberate examination and re-working, SAINT WALLY could be a book that offers strong and pointed commentary.