Wednesday, January 7, 2009

The Dead Man's Brother-Roger Zelazny

The Dead Man's Brother
Roger Zelazny
Hard Case Crime (Dorchester), Feb 2009, $6.99
ISBN 9780843961140

Ovid Wiley was once an infamous art thief, but gave up the second story profession to become a highly regarded New York City art dealer. One morning he arrives at his gallery only to be met by his former criminal partner, Carl Bernini; who is a corpse on the floor.

NYPD charges Ovid with the homicide. The CIA offers Ovid a deal; they will spring him from jail and insure the charges are dropped in return for him working a mission for them. Ovid agrees and heads to Rome, Italy to follow the trail of money-laundering priest Father Bretagne, who recently vanished without a trace. Ovid wonders about the coincidences as his friend Maria Borsini was apparently lover to both Bernini and Bretagne. The clues send him next to Brazil where probable death awaits him from lethal foes.

Apparently the late great sci fi writer Roger Zelazny wrote this exhilarating thriller in the early 1970s, but was never published until now. The story line is fast-paced from the reunion of former criminal partners in Wiley’s gallery and picks ups speed and several plausible twists as the hero hops continents working for the CIA. The plot contains a historical feel as the war of the moment was Viet Nam. Readers will appreciate this exciting detective tale as Ovid uses his crime experiences as he believes the same skills are needed for sleuthing.

Harriet Klausner