It's not often that I run out of books to read but this week I inextricability did. I had come home from work on Friday with nothing to read for the weekend. I scanned my bookshelves for a book that I hadn't already read. Finally I found this one and was unsure initially why I had never read it, when I bought it from a Car Boot over a year ago.
==About the author:==
Sidney Sheldon had a long and successful career. He was born in Chicago in 1917 and died in 2007. This successful author has had many of his books transferred to film and television. Most of Sheldon's novels have been number one best sellers and he has sold over 300 million copies of his books. His first book 'The Natural Face' receiving the Edgar Award for the best first mystery of the year. He also worked in television creating 'I dream of Jeanie' and 'Hart to Hart'.
==Synopsis of the book:==
Harry Stanford has lived a life most of us can only dream off. This extremely successful businessman having acquired wealth to make him a billionaire. Always working and trying and trying to make bigger and more lucrative deals. His life is cut short when on his yacht near Corsica he falls overboard in a storm and mysteriously drowns.
This brings his lawyers and all of his children to Boston for the funeral and the reading of the will. His three children have all turned out very differently, none having followed their father into the business. They are all successful but have done it with little help from him, as he sort to hinder and ridicule them whenever he could. Woody has become a successful Polo Player, Judge Tyler the top in his field know as the hanging judge and Kendall their sister a successful International Designer. The thing they share is they have never been close to each other or their dead father.
However, a fourth heir arrives at the house. As Julia Stanford's mother Chambermaid who was with the household many years before having an affair with Harry and got pregnant by him. This affair caused the Children's mother to take her own life and the Chambermaid to flee as the press searched for more scandal from this influential family. Harry's children are very suspicious of this woman and start get their lawyers in investigate her to find out if she possibly could be their half sister and so entitled to share in her father's fortune.
==My thoughts on the novel:==
I thought this was a very good and enjoyable thriller. It was really easy to read and I found the author's writing style very appealing. This style was very unusual as the paragraphs for each scene were amazingly short. So that you found in no time at all had you read a significant part of the book. It took me less than two days to read this and when ever I had a break from the story I was always very keen to get back to it.
It was only when I was doing some research on the author I realised just how successful he had been. I had read one of his other books last year 'Are you afraid of the dark?' which I also enjoyed. The book I am reviewing here was published first in 1995.
In the past I have really struggled to enjoy novels written by American authors. I don't know what it is but I seem to have problems getting my head round the differences in their style from British authors. However I am very pleased to report I had no problems on this occasion.
When I realised I need a new book to read and had forgotten to buy one, I finally discovered this one. At this point I have to admit to being shallow, as when I wondered why I had not already read this despite having had it for over a year. The answer was the attractive looking lady on the front cover had somehow put me off as I thought this might be a book specifically for the ladies.
Despite my shallowness, I read the three paragraphs summary of the book on its inside cover. It sounded very interesting from this and I liked the concept it discussed. Although I must admit the third paragraph was a bit superfluous, as it was just telling you about the international context it was set in.
When I started reading the story I found I instantly took to it and liked it. As on page one there was talk about Harry Stanford being followed by some unknown men. And despite and maybe even because of this man's success I was very keen to know more about him and his life and also why these men were after him. It was quite mysterious and I thought it was a good start to the story.
I liked the way the story was going, although I had my doubts I would like it as much after Stanford died. This was justified as the story then followed the Chief of Police who was looking into the death. I found there was little relevance in this and it certainly added little to the story. So I was very pleased when it changed direction once the lawyers managed to get the body released for burial back in Boston, USA.
Fortunately the story moved on to tell the story of what happened to the dead man's children. I really enjoyed having some background on them and I liked the way it followed them in term, allowing you to get to know them and see things from their perspective. It demonstrated how badly he treated his children and the way he used their weaknesses against them. This was good because any sympathy you felt for the dead man was eradicated by this.
However this was where I had one of my complaints about the book. I would have liked more depth about their upbringing and not only that all their achievements in their adult lives. It all seemed to easy for them, anything they set their minds to they did well and very successfully. This was particularly true in Kendall's story and I thought this was both unrealistic and highly improbable.
That said I continued to enjoy the path the story was taking but by this point I could see little in the way of mystery or suspense. This was about to change however when Julia Stanford appeared and claimed her share of the family fortune. I thought this part was extremely well written in one respect but poor in another. I liked the unexpected twist this brought in and the intrigue it added to the story. Although negatively again there was a lack of detail about her and especially her feelings and thoughts.
I found from this point onwards that I had no idea what was going to happen next and which direction the author was going to take the story. For me this was a really enjoyable feature as the author brought many unexpected events into play, Indeed at times I wondered if he was even going to bring Harry Stanford back from the dead as well, as it seemed a vague possibility.
The book I felt was always well paced and I really had no idea how the author would finish to story off. Unsurprisingly the conclusion was totally unexpected and I found that in itself very enjoyable and although we knew some of the answers you had no idea how it could be sorted out and concluded.
On this occasion I would really have liked to have had an epilogue. As so much had happened, I would have liked to have seen what became of some of the characters and how what had happened changed their lives. That said the story was in many respects about right in length, although extra depth certainly at times would have been appreciated.
The author's style of very short, sharp paragraphs both appealed and frustrated me. I enjoyed it because it made it very easy to follow, allowing the reader to feel they were really getting somewhere in the story. But at other times annoyed me because I want more depth, more emotion and more feeling to come out of the characters.
For me there was no real out and out star in this novel, which made a pleasant change. Instead you had many co-stars, this allowed you to see more about what was happening and also appreciate different view points although for me they did not contrasts as much as I expected or would have liked.
I liked the way the author gave all the children skeletons in their cupboards. It made them more human and vulnerable despite the money and their successes. The way they were so different in character, personality but what they shared was differing problems and not having a solution to them.
The real mystery came into the novel in the second half of it and it was well executed. Some of the twists within it I had not see coming at all. And although you knew who was responsible and why you did not know if and how they would get caught, as they always seemed ahead of the game.
Yes you certainly could argue that the lack of depth in the story made it less entertaining. But although at times I found it frustrating I was still engrossed in the story from the first to the last page. I can certainly see on this form why his work has been transferred to film and television as he can produce great characters, in a well thought out story with lots of twists.
In certain ways I felt this story was a little out dated but I found the lack of modern technology in some ways refreshing and quaint.
For me this was a very entertaining and well thought out thriller. The author had a first class concept that he added several unexpected and enjoyable twists to a very good story. It was very easy to get into the story and while it lacked depth in parts it did not detract from my ultimate feeling about it.
Publisher: Harper Collins
About the author: www.sidneysheldon.com
Thank you for reading my review.
This review is published on both Ciao and Dooyoo under my user name.
@CPTDANIELS November 2010