Wednesday, September 27

Four Kinds of Rain by Robert Ward

Review by Gloria Feit 

Bob Wells, a liberal and social activist from the old school, is a practicing psychologist in Baltimore without much of a practice, known to his patients, some of whom even pay a fee, as Dr. Bobby.  His ex-wife has dumped him for one of their old school buddies who now has a nationally syndicated radio show, he has gambled away his life savings [hastening the breakup of his marriage], and is deep in a state of depression and bitterness.  He has now met a young woman with whom he has fallen in love, who tells him that she loves him too but fears repeating the mistakes of her first marriage to a complete loser, and he finds himself contemplating the previously unthinkable:  Stealing a legendary and apparently priceless mask supposedly worth millions from one of his patients, a wealthy man who, Bob reasons, will collect the insurance anyway, leaving only the insurance company as a 'victim.'  

So ends Part One of this new book by Robert Ward, whose previous book, Red Baker, garnered excellent reviews.  The current novel has a protagonist with whom one can almost sympathize, but only 'almost.'   Bob's thoughts go from very positive and upbeat, honest and unselfish, one moment, to the pits of self-pity and –hatred and, for that matter, hatred of [most of] his fellow man, completely self-absorbed and cynical, the next.  His changing moods and mind-sets fairly cry out for a shrink of his own.  As Bob puts it, he no longer plays by the rules of the civilized world.  Oh, and the priceless mask that started it all?   It's an ancient Babylonian mask of the god of vengeance and justice. 

By turn comic, dark and disturbing, Four Kinds of Rain is an offbeat and interesting noir tale.


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