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. (July) Copyright 2010 Reed Business Information.