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Time’s Fool by Leonard Tourney

 Publisher: Forge Books; 1st edition ISBN: 0765303043

Reviewed by Donna Padilla

William Shakespeare is summoned by his former mistress who tries to blackmail him.  He refuses, but before he can leave an arsonist sets the house on fire.  Trying to escape, his former mistress falls to her death.  Back in London Will is approached by Edward Goode, a young man who claims to have seen the arsonist.  Will takes him under his wing and begins training him to act.  But when Edward is murdered, Will is accused of the crime.

He flees London just ahead of his pursuers to get to Stratford to take his wife and daughters out of danger.  Now Will is determined to discover who killed his mistress, young Edward, framed him and is now pursuing him.

This is not a fast paced hard hitting mystery, but a tale of manipulation.  Will is being manipulated into certain actions and then diabolically foiled by an unknown person for an unknown reason.  Tourney combines historical characters with fictional characters to give the reader a very intriguing novel.

 

Rift By Richard Cox

 Publisher: Ballantine Books ISBN: 0345462831

Reviewed by Marcus Brandt

“Rift” is the story of a guy in a dead-end job, who has lost his enthusiasm for everything – his job, his marriage and his life. The one day his despised boss offers him $5 million to take part in an untried experiment – one that is very dangerous, with no guarantees of survival, but a chance at living in luxury and a once-in-a-lifetime risk and adventure. Only after he completes the experiment does he find out how really dangerous it is.

I did stay up too late a couple of nights reading this book, so that’s some kind of recommendation.  My big problem with the story is that there is a big twist and it comes way too early. I kind of guessed it was coming, and it’s a good one, but once you find out the real story, the rest of the plot is fairly predictable, and any surprises or plot developments that are to come pale in comparison. The hero does do a great deal of soul searching, and the conclusions he comes to are heartwarming and life-affirming, but the scale of the surprise overwhelms everything else in the book once you understand what’s going on. For me, there was no great payoff at or near the end, or indeed, much mystery from there on out, and I had some trouble cheering for the main character.

So, what the hell – good enough to borrow from the library and it was worth my while to read – but that’s about it. A good one for those more intrigued by the implications of “The Matrix” than by Ak-47s.

 

Night Swimming by Robin Schwarz

Publisher: Warner Books ISBN: 0446532533

Reviewed by Karen Treanor

If Janet Leigh hadn't stopped at the Bates Motel, this book might be the story of what happened to her later on.

"Night Swimming" is on one level a novel of crime, punishment and redemption; on another level, it's a Brothers Not-so-grim treatment of the unloved girl, the disguised prince, the fairy godmother and the treasure.

Fat Charlotte tires of her dull life in a small town, and uses her job at the bank as the escape hatch into a new and, she hopes, a better life.  She knows it won't be a long one: a doctor's visit has given her a death sentence.  Knowing how little life is left to her, she determines to take action to ensure that the last months will make up for the dull misery of the foregoing years.

Arriving in California, she buys a million dollar home with a pool, and begins swimming every night, when no one will see her bulk.   She strikes up a friendship with the pool man and a rich old woman.  Unexpectedly, these relationships lead to a sort of love she never expected to find.

Then out of the blue Charlotte loses most of her ill-gotten gains, and then discovers she isn't going to die soon, and this forces her to re-examine what she has done.  If she's not going to die, she needs to come to terms with how she is going to live, and that presents her with some hard choices.

There are several instances of 'telegraphing the punch' which tip the careful reader off to the way the plot is moving; even so, the story is enjoyable, and one is drawn along, willing Charlotte to find a way out of the web her actions have spun around her.

This is a nice 'feel good' story that doesn't leave any bitter dregs.  If you're feeling a bit pounded by life, you could do worse than steal an afternoon to read this story.  It'll do you more good than a box of canolis and a Librium.  Of course, you could always eat the canolis while you're reading……

 

Death of a Thousand Cuts by Barbara D’Amato

 Publisher: Forge ISBN: 0765303450

It’s the summer of 1995 in Chicago, and heat-related deaths are setting records when detectives Emily Folkestone and Ollie Park are called in to investigate the murder of Dr. Schermerhorn.  A Freudian psychiatrist who once ran a residential home for autistic children, his body is discovered during the 30 year reunion of staff and patients that is taking place in the old Hawthorne mansion.  And when it’s discovered that his methods of treatment had been more harmful than helpful, the list of suspects grow into a formidable list that includes staff, patients, and their families.  It appears all to clear that the good doctor was anything but good, and the damage he caused had repercussions that never faded. 

Unfortunately, Emily Folkestone is one of the most unsympathetic and unlikable characters that I have ever run across.  In a story that could have made much more of the difficulties faced by those with developmental disabilities, the reader is instead taken through this journey as seen through the eyes of this ignorant and insensitive detective, whose irritation and annoyance at the disabled is nothing short of inexcusable.  And when she finally does come around, somewhat anyway, it is far too late, and her pat justifications for her thoughtless attitudes are written off with a casualty that is simply indefensible.  So while her revelations on some of Freud’s more questionable theories are worthwhile, the remainder of the book is almost intolerable and those with a more sensitive outlook will find it difficult to finish, much less enjoy.