MIRROR IMAGE by Lucille Fletcher


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To surprise readers is great, to cheat them isn't. Fletcher (Edgar winner for the radio script of Sorry, Wrong Number; Eighty Dollars to Stamford, 1975; etc.) takes the crooked path in this slim, ultracontrived thriller about a woman's search for her long-lost sister. Robin Chodoff devotes her quiet life to tending her cancer-ridden, film-star mom and to remembrance of her little sister, Marya, missing for 18 years. Suddenly, that quiet shatters: young, dashing attorney Andy Forrester picks up Robin as she jogs in Central Park and steals her heart; and a letter comes from a nurse in France saying that a local girl resembles the young film-star Suzanne: Marya? When lawyer Andy leaves for Hawaii on business, Robin flies to Rouen. There, rooming at the nurse's pension and aided by the nurse and middle-aged P.I. Raoul Guzman, she contrives to meet the sequestered girl--Irene D'Egremont--only to be shot at by Irene's vicious father. A second meet in Caen confirms for Robin that Irene is her sister--but, back in her hotel room, Robin finds the nurse with her throat slit. At this point, Fletcher veers from the unlikely to the preposterous, as a French police inspector tells Robin that all--the nurse, Irene, Irene's dad, Guzman--was a sham, a con by ""the Terrible Kerenjis,"" a gang of swindlers whose specialty is stealing inheritances by having one of the gang--here, ""Irene""--pose as a lost relative; evidently the ""nurse"" had doubts about their scheme and was slain. Even the pension turns out to have been a stage front. Preposterous, but still fair; not so what follows, however, as Fletcher reveals--back in New York, without proper clue, after Robin's mom has died, and Irene has reappeared, and Robin is about to wed Andy--that young, handsome, friendly, blue-eyed Andy isn't Andy at all, but actually middle-aged, stocky, lecherous, brown-eyed Raoul Guzman, or, rather, master swindler Guy Kerenji himself, an actor so great as to appear as anyone he wishes--even as Robin's mom's deathbed nurse! Phooey. More ridiculous twists--and a nick-in-time saving of Robin from Guy's/Andy's/Raoul's knife--follow, but who cares? Fletcher loses credibility by turning apples into oranges.

Pub Date: June 21st, 1988
Publisher: Morrow