IF TOMORROW COMES by Sidney Sheldon
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Cardboard heroine Tracy Whitney goes from sweet-young-thing to framed prisoninmate, from ruthless avenger to international jewel-thief--as Sheldon, never known for originality, does his laziest recycling yet, stringing together old movie-plot clichÉs without shape or conviction. The opening chapters are almost comic in their fast-food melodrama: pregnant Tracy, a Philadelphia bank-employee about to wed society scion Charles Stanhope III, hurries to hometown New Orleans after learning of her bankrupt mother's suicide; she confronts the mobster who ruined Mother, accidentally shooting him; but the Mob frames her for assault and robbery, landing Tracy in the Big House--where she miscarries after violent lesbian rape. Will Tracy have to serve 15 years? No, of course not: after saving the Warden's wee daughter from drowning, Tracy gets a pardon. So now she's free to take tricky revenge on the half-dozen creeps who framed her--in a series of unconvincing, quickie vignettes. (Charles III, who dumped Tracy in her hour of need, requires no revenge action: he's now miserably married to a society type.) End of story? Hardly. Unable to get work because of her prison past, Tracy reluctantly becomes a super-thief and con artist: she pulls off one daring scam after another (a jewel-switch in London, an art theft in Madrid, etc.); she is pursued by an ugly, obsessed insurance-company sleuth (a misogynistic psycho who killed his sluttish mother); and she keeps running into infuriating rival-thief Jeff Stevens. . . who'll eventually become her lover and soulmate. A couple of the heists here are pleasantly clever; most, however, are tired and/or farfetched. At every turn, moreover, Sheldon's episodic, play-doh plotting is riddled with implausibilities, painful contrivances. (E.g., super-crook Tracy accidentally leaves a scarf with her initials on it at the scene of one crime.) And, above all, Tracy remains a faceless, unengaging creature throughout--mechanically switching from idiotic wimp to cool customer. Without the zest and corny satisfactions of Master of the Game, Rage of Angels, or Bloodline: Sheldon's weakest novel yet, especially for movie-wise readers (who'll suffer continuous dÉjàvu)--but sure to attract the large Sheldon following.

Pub Date: Feb. 18th, 1984
Publisher: Morrow