Friday, July 31, 2009

If Tomorrow Comes by Sidney Sheldon

Posted by engi at 2:43:00 PM
Tracy Whitney is on top of the world. Young, beautiful, and intelligent, she is about to marry into wealth and glamour. A late-night phone call from New Orleans, informs her that her mother has committed suicide. Betrayed by her own innocence, Tracy winds up in prison, framed by a ruthless Mafia gang, abandoned by the man she loves, and facing a year as the "wife" of Ernestine Littlechap (Ernie), who later helps Tracy to take revenge against Pope Perry and the Judge.

Beautiful, smart, and idealistic, Tracy enters a life of hardship and violence and vows revenge against all those who harmed her. Eventually, she becomes the nanny for the prison warden's young daughter, a job that leads to her release from jail. Desperate, unable to find work as an ex-con, she turns to a well-known New York City jewelry store owner (and fence) who helps her make some fast money in a jewel heist. Escaping with the goods, Tracy has an encounter with Jeff Stevens, a master con man.

Stevens steals the jewels from Tracy, who realizes she's been had. She then cons Jeff, taking back her prize, and decides that Jeff will become another future victim of her brilliant revenge schemes. Not long after, Tracy travels to England and is introduced to Gunther Hartog, a world-class fence for valuable stolen property. Thus begins her life as one of the world's cleverest criminals. Sheldon invents some brilliant schemes, filled with humor and ingenuity (although they likely wouldn't work in reality), that Tracy pursues as she encounters Jeff Stevens again and again. Although they "hate each other," we begin to see their growing appreciation, respect, admiration, and enjoyment of their mutual competition.

Interpol, the FBI, and police departments and insurance companies around the world are trying to prevent Tracy from stealing priceless jewels, paintings, or other prizes. In every case they fail. Only Daniel Cooper, a plain-looking sociopath and insurance investigator seems capable of matching Tracy's brilliance.

Unusually, the book presents the nominal "villains" -- Tracy and Jeff -- as sympathetic and kind-hearted, while the pursuing detective, Cooper, is presented as almost psychotic; this could be a reversal of the classic "bloodhound detective" chasing a smart and elusive enemy, as in The Day of the Jackal.

In the end, Tracy and Jeff plan to meet with each other, and live together in Brazil. The story ends with a stranger Maximilian asking to be with acquaintances with Tracy.


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