PRETEND ALL YOUR LIFE by Joseph Mackin

PRETEND ALL YOUR LIFE

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KIRKUS REVIEW

Cheesy melodrama about a plastic surgeon, 9/11, AIDS, blackmail and revenge.

Dr. Richard Gallin is off his game. The Park Avenue plastic surgeon has scaled back his procedures drastically; he pads around his office barefoot. It’s January 2002, and the doctor is still disoriented after the death of his son Bernardo on 9/11. The insurance money (millions!) has come through for his widow Karin, but her husband’s wedding ring was all that was retrieved from the Twin Towers. And something else is pressing on Gallin. A journalist, Nick Adams, is threatening to write an exposé about him even though there’s no dirt, unless you count his promiscuity years ago, after his wife’s death from cancer. Adams comes to the office. He’s a redhead, and that damns him; Gallin believes all redheaded males are dishonest. What’s motivating Adams is Gallin’s dismissal of his nurse Peter, who had volunteered that he was HIV positive; Adams is Peter’s lover. Gallin can handle this, but can he handle the return of Bernardo? For his son is alive! Escaping the inferno, and realizing he no longer loved his wife (hence the discarded ring), Bernardo hightailed it to Florida. Now he’s back, asking his father to change his appearance. Since he’d already created a new identity in Florida, this makes no sense; nor does it make sense that Gallin would consent to the surgery, thus participating in insurance fraud, or re-hire Peter to help him. Making sense, though, was never a consideration for a writer who values excess above everything. That excess feeds on itself when Gallin is mugged, and then hires his mugger to take care of Adams, which he does, brutally. When the mugger shows up to claim his reward (ten grand, plus surgery for his own sorry self), the story comes to a sudden halt, a resolution seemingly impossible.

A first novel that fails in every respect—plot, characterization and language mangled beyond belief.

Pub Date: April 1st, 2010
ISBN: 978-1-57962-196-4
Page count: 200pp
Publisher: Permanent Press
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15th, 2010




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