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From the author of Playing with Fire (1990) and Fugitive Blue (1992): another gloomy tale of upper-class guilt and betrayal, this featuring a psychoanalyst who longs to reunite with the son he lost more than 30 years ago. Solomon Grossman never felt so lucky as on his wedding night with wealthy Ruth Lenski, the cosseted only child of Manhattan's first Jewish district attorney. Inspired to propose by a sort of existential recklessness he feels as a Holocaust survivor, the fledgling psychoanalyst's in-laws reward him with an elegant brownstone that includes a private office for his practice. The marriage soon starts to crumble, though, as Ruthie insists on getting pregnant despite Solomon's pleas of poverty; later, her passion for baby Daniel precludes any affection for Solomon. The dutiful doctor retreats to his office, where trouble soon arrives in the form of Katrina Volk, a new patient and gifted photographer who reveals that her father was a powerful member of the Nazi regime. Katrina proceeds to lure Solomon into a night of S&M sex; and when Solomon ends their relationship, she goes public with the incident. Scandalized Ruthie runs home to Daddy with Daniel in her arms, and decades pass before Solomon, now 64, can bring himself to face his grown son and try to make amends. By now, of course, Daniel has his own problems: His wife and daughter have left him, and his mother has recently died. Still, he's excited by the appearance of a father long believed dead, and the two men are just getting to know each other when Solomon drops dead of a heart attack. The 30-page epilogue, in which Solomon's spirit ensures that Daniel will not lose his family as Solomon lost his, provides a disappointingly paranormal end to this otherwise compelling story, throwing the reader out of sympathy with the characters and rendering the entire tale less believable. A flawed novel, then--though, as always, Shapiro's gift for evoking the darker emotions is clear and strong.

Pub Date: Jan. 1st, 1996
Page count: 256pp
Publisher: Doubleday