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…



Rage Of Angels, Sidney Sheldon, 1980

Give Him an Inch…


Spoilers ahead.

Jennifer Parker, a rookie lawyer fresh out of law school, starts an internship in the office of Manhattan district attorney Robert Di Silva. On her very first day she manages to ruin a trial-of-the-century against Michael Moretti, a supreme Mafioso, which results him being released, a huge public ridicule and eternal wrath (or rage) of Di Silva. A laughing stock of the city and her once promising career prospects in shambles, Jennifer tries to lick her wounds the best she can by opening her own little, both in terms of physical office space and chances for success, law firm. And miraculously, Jennifer manages to get her firm off the ground because she really is a good and clever lawyer, although she does get secret help from Adam Warner, a hotshot from New York’s bar association, who feels sorry for her and sends her notable clients every now and then. However, a situation when Jennifer is forced to ask a favor from Michael Moretti of all people, rises and by mafia laws, she is expected to return the favor. This gradually leads her now highly successful and respected firm to become a pawn for mafia, not the least because Jennifer and Michael develop a passionate love affair.

Generally Rage of Angels ranks as one of better Sidney Sheldon novels although it is a mixed bag. The character of Jennifer Parker is one problem; whilst one can easily sympathise her in the beginning, it defies the credibility that someone so smart would allow her achievements to be swallowed by organised crime just because of her lust for hot and handsome mobster. ROA also represent the point when Sheldon abandoned his urban thrillers of the Seventies (although only his first novel Naked Face, 1970, fully belonged into this genre) for the outrageously fabulous entertainment of the Eighties (Master of The Game, If Tomorrow Comes, Sands of Time), thus there is still some half-hearted social commentary about how generally decent and just lawyers turn to predators in the court room, where only winning the client’s case matters, and how vulnerable the Little People without money, connections or right background are in that grinder. Still in the world of Sheldon’s relatively bland goody-two-shoes heroines, who come out at the top, Jennifer Parker makes a curious exception as a woman who willingly gives in to evil and pays the sad price in the end.