If Tomorrow Comes, Sidney Sheldon, 1985



Tracy’s New Life in High Crime

Tracy Whitney is a young, clever, beautiful (of course) computer expert who has a good job in a large Philadelphia bank. Overall life is good and getting even better because she is in love with Charles, an heir of one of the most prominent families of the city, and a wedding date is already set. But tragedy strikes unexpectedly when Tracy’s mother Doris commits a suicide in New Orleans. Tracy immediately travels over and learns that Doris had lost the Whitney family company, hustled away by a shady local business man Joe Romano. Tracy makes a haphazard effort to confront Romano, which only results her being locked up for 15 years in Louisiana women’s prison on trumped-up charges. In reality, Joe Romano is a henchman of local mobster Anthony Orsatti and with lawyers and judges on their payroll, they had no problem to frame Tracy for an armed robbery.   

Whilst incarcerated, all the usual exploitative prison-cliches occur to Tracy but the early prison part, which offers some genuine suspense and grit, is easily the most exciting of what ITC has to offer.  Tracy is pardoned after she saves the warden’s daughter from drowning.  After being released, Tracy enacts her revenge on Romano, Orsatti & co. by putting her newfound knowledge of conning and scheming in good use and secretly manipulating the mobsters against each other by framing evidences that they are skimming money from the mafia’s operations.  Most outlandish is the crooked judge’s comeuppance, which sees him being sent to a Siberian gulag(!)

Afterwards Tracy decides to return to Philadelphia to pick up where she left off but soon learns how damning her time in prison and criminal record really are for work and career prospects, Charles had already dumped her when she went inside. Embittered, Tracy goes to New York to meet a conniving jewel merchant, who had been “recommended” for her back in prison by another inmate, which leads to her new life as a jetsetting  conwoman and art thief. She also develops a competitive love-hate relationship with a handsome (of course) fellow crook Jeff Stevens. However, she also has an unexpected nemesis, Daniel Cooper, a highly intelligent but deeply disturbed international insurance investigator, who has vowed to catch her.  

Because the bottom line remains that Tracy is a criminal, Sheldon used a good old, if somewhat unimaginative, trick to ensure that reader’s symphaties stay with her by making her every victim unlikeable; a chauvinist sovjet chess master, a snooty British (gay) jewelry shop assistant, a (gay) owner of an illeagal casino, an Italian director who makes bad movies… and so on.

If Tomorrow comes provides many surprises and miraculous rescues from the long hand of the law, which are entertaining but would never work in a real life unless all the police forces in US and Europe get infected by some kind of dumbdown-virus. There is also allure, luxury and exotic locations to spare but somehow the book manages to be less than a sum of its parts. After her first trial and error heist, Tracy’s clever cons and heists become increasingly repetitive and by the con/heist#5 or #6 the reader starts to wait for a conclusion, which is kind of happy and bland one with Tracy and Jeff returning to straight-and-narrow together as a respectable couple. Jeff himself is just little more than a Sheldon’s usually run-from-the-mill, goodlooking loveinterest for his each respective heroine and gets introduced too late in the story for reader to care about him. This problem was solved a lot better in the 1986 miniserie -it was a standard procedure back in the eighties to make one from SS’s latest bestseller- based on ITC.

Intro of Sidney Sheldon’s If Tomorrow Comes miniserie, starring Madolyn Smith-Osborne, Tom Berenger and Liam Neeson.

Some unknown library user apparently enjoyed this book A LOT…