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Vallone has written an often amusing but unoriginal first novel about life and revenge after death among the very, very rich. Henry Somerset, one of America's wealthiest men, wakes up one morning to realize that he is dead. The reclusive financier, whose motto is ""Mine, all mine,"" is able to move around at will, blink himself from one continent to another, and even enter other people's dreams. But he can't remember how he died. An opportunity to exact revenge on those who mistreated him in life presents itself in the person of E.C. Marshall. A businessman almost as eccentric as Henry, E.C. is adopted by Henry's Irish wolfhound, Bozo, and soon acquires Henry's pyramid-like home (complete with bomb shelters and secret rooms), his vast art collection, and his loving assistant, Susan Cleave. With a little help from Bozo, Henry directs E.C. to secret treasures and interests him in the deal that was to be the crown jewel in Henry's career -- until he was betrayed by his wife, Harriet, and nephew, Gustavo. The scheme, which involves Henry's partners in the Vatican and the Mafia, will bankrupt Henry's family. Henry loses control when E.C., who has become richer and more unhappy than he ever imagined, is enchanted by an evil opera singer and turns his back on true love. Harriet decides that she wants E.C. and his new wealth herself and is willing to resort to murder. The Vatican and the Mafia try to regain control using the Vatican's secret children and their powers of second sight, but ultimately it is Henry who must face the mystery of his death in order to bring about his own redemption and ease the passage of the others. Vallone's displays of knowledge about everything from Egyptian art to modern finance get long-winded, but when he's not trying to impress, he's often entertaining.

Pub Date: Aug. 15th, 1994
Page count: 480pp
Publisher: Dutton