A down-and-out psychiatrist puts together a ragtag gang to rob one of his clients in this comic caper.
Bob Wells finds himself trapped in a mind-numbing routine and sliding into financial ruin. His marriage recently broke up after 22 years, thanks to his excessive gambling, exacerbated by drink. Suddenly, he’s alone in his mid-50s, living in a dumpy house in a shabby Baltimore neighborhood and scraping together a living as a freelance psychiatric social worker. Both the stream of new clients and the options for obtaining research grants are evaporating. Drinking has become a habit again, and Bob finds himself tempted to gamble. His only pleasure comes on Thursday nights, when he plays with his oldies band, the Rockaholics. They hire a young blonde singer named Jesse Reardon and, for Bob, it’s love at first sight. He fights the attraction for weeks, but when Jesse confesses her love for him, Bob surrenders to his bliss, which soon gives way to doubt and desperation. Jesse declares that she loves his success, but could never care for a guy who was broke. Bob has one wealthy client, the pampered and highly neurotic Emile Bardan, an antiquities dealer whose latest obsession is a priceless Sumerian sun-god mask. Emile is convinced that his archenemy, Colin Edwards, whom he’s convinced murdered his friend Peter, is scheming to steal the mask. Bob puts together a scheme of his own, to improve his financial position by stealing the mask himself and selling it to Edwards. What begins as a simple plan, however, balloons into a complicated challenge. The heist goes not at all as planned, changing Bob’s life forever.
A mixed bag from veteran novelist (Grace, 1998, etc.) and TV writer (Hill Street Blues, etc.) Ward. There are several funny setups and quirky characters, but the prose often strains for humor and edge.