If Tomorrow Comes: A novel

An hour glass is art element on cover of “If Tomorrow Comes”
Carpe diem is thieves’ motto.

The dust jacket notes for Sidney Sheldon’s If Tomorrow Comes describe the book’s heroine as a “lovely” and “idealistic” young woman “framed” into a 15-year prison sentence.

Actually, Tracy Whitney buys a gun with deliberate intent to make New Orleans mob boss “pay for killing [her] mother,” who committed suicide.

Although her shot doesn’t kill the mobster, Tracy goes to jail, proving to her (and any mindless moron reading the novel) that the legal system is rigged against the innocent.

Moments before her carefully planned jail break, Tracy—who can’t swim—jumps into a lake to save a drowning child.

The publicity results in her being released before serving even a tenth of her sentence.

Once free, Tracy tries to go back to her old job in a bank. To her shock, the bank refuses to hire a convicted felon to work in its data processing department.

She does the only reasonable thing: She turns thief, using her “intelligence and beauty” to prey on bad, rich people.

Tracy meets a man her equal in intelligence, good looks, and pursuit of the thrill of profit-by-deception.

Sheldon manages to make this totally implausible story of a pair of amoral rascals as irresistible as a two-pound box of truffles.

If Tomorrow Comes by Sidney Sheldon
Morrow. ©1985. 403 p.
1985 bestseller #4; my grade: C

©2019 Linda G. Aragoni

The Brass Bowl: A mystery for the least discerning reader

Millionnaire Daniel Maitland comes home as a young woman leaves his Manhattan apartment building whose other occupants are away.  Maitland senses someone has been in his rooms.

Nothing is missing, but there’s a small, woman-sized hand print on a table. Maitland sets a brass bowl upside down over it.

miscellanous brass bowls.
Any of these brass bowls would do to protect a woman’s hand print.

The Brass Bowl by Louis Joseph Vance
1907 bestseller #5. Project Gutenberg ebook #8741. My grade: B-.

Warned by his lawyer the family jewels kept at his country home could tempt burglar Dan Anisty, Maitland goes to retrieve them.

On the ferry, he sees the same woman he saw leaving his building earlier and falls madly in love.

She’s on her way to steal Maitland’s jewels.

So is Dan Ainsty.

By coincidence, Ainsty and Maitland look like identical twins.

Who is the woman?

How does Ainsty know which houses are unguarded?

Could a beautiful woman possibly be a bad one?

It’s all very mysterious and very confusing, especially to Maitland, whose mental processes are, at best, lethargic.

Like the plot, the main characters are too familiar to be interesting.

The Brass Bowl might have worked as a movie — it has chase scenes and gunfights plus a janitor and a detective straight out of silent films — but there’s not enough substance to satisfy any but the least discerning readers.

© 2017 Linda Gorton Aragoni

Engaging Guttersnipe Entertains In the Bishop’s Carriage 

Model of closed horse-drawn carriage
The  bishop’s carriage might have looked like this scale model.

My fear that Miriam Michelson’s In the Bishop’s Carriage was going to be soppy, religious novel was dispelled on page one when Nancy Olde nips into the womens’ room with a watch Tom Drogan has just lifted and, after tidying her hair, walks out wearing a stranger’s red coat with a chinchilla collar.

To avoid a cop, Nancy nips into a waiting carriage, naps, and awakes to find the carriage’s other occupant is a bishop. Nancy talks herself out of the danger and into the heart of the childless bishop.

Nancy returns to Tom and does some pleasant thieving until a burglary goes wrong.

While Tom spends most of his time in solitary confinement at Sing Sing. Nancy turns her powers of observation and talent for mimicry into work in vaudeville.

When Tom breaks out, Nancy refuses to join him again.

Then Nancy is caught with a purse full of stolen money that she didn’t steal.

Michelson lets Nancy narrate the story first to Tom, then to a childhood friend from Cruelty. Through oblique references, readers can piece together a picture of Nancy’s childhood.

Through everything, Nancy bubbles with fun. Nancy enjoys life and readers will enjoy it with her by proxy.

In the Bishop’s Carriage
By Miriam Michelson
1904 bestseller # 4
Project Gutenberg EBook #481
My grade: C+

Photo credit:  Carriage  uploaded by jakubson

© 2014 Linda Gorton Aragoni

 

 

 

When a Man Marries Is Madcap Mystery

Needles and pins
Needles and pins,
When a man marries
His trouble begins.

Forget suspense and horror.

In When a Man Marries, novelist Mary Roberts Rinehart ladles out a rollicking mix of suspense and humor.

To cheer up Jimmy Wilson, who’s been divorced by his wife, Bella, Kit McNair arranges an impromptu dinner at Jim’s house. Jim learns his Aunt Selina is also coming that evening, expecting to meet Bella. Since Aunt Selina, who is Jim’s meal ticket, abhors divorce, his friends decide Kit should pretend to be Jim’s wife for the evening.

While Kit is impersonating Bella, Bella sneaks into the house to hire away the butler. The butler, however, has been hospitalized with smallpox. The other servants have fled, and the house is quarantined.

The dinner guests are rich socialites, incapable of making toast. Fortunately, a policeman discovered asleep in the cellar is willing to cook and do dishes, and a engineer brought along as a potential husband for Kit can do nearly everything else.

While the house is quarantined and guarded by police, Anne Brown’s pearl collar, Bella’s diamond bracelet, and Aunt Selina’s cash and jewelry are stolen. The thief has to be someone in the house, but who?

And who kissed Kit on the dark stairway?

Get the answers and several good laughs in When a Man Marries.

When a Man Marries
By Mary Roberts Rinehart
1910 bestseller #10
Project Gutenberg eBook #1671
 

© 2013 Linda Gorton Aragoni