The mind can be a tricky thing. The name of someone you just met might escape your remembrance while at the same time the name of some classmate in elementary school from decades ago can’t be forgotten. How many of us have forgotten our home phone number from time to time? For retired Detective Lieutenant Jack Lehman it seems to be happening more and more.
As the novel opens, he knows one thing for sure. A former snitch of his, the name he can’t remember, reached out and by phone told him that a big heist of over a million dollars had happened. The phone call had come after a long night when he was tormented by the fact that he simply could not remember the name of who his favorite late night talk show host was as he watched him on TV. He was still more asleep than awake when his snitch called and now, as he sits in front of Captain Hewitt, who runs his old 32nd District, he is humiliated and embarrassed.
As Captain Hewitt points out, while Jack can’t remember the name, a heist that big means the police should have heard something. Jack knows that is true but he also knows the call happened. Driven by a need to prove himself as well as to dispel the notion that he is nothing more than a senile old man, Jack begins to work the case. A case that leads back to the past and scores unsettled. Beset by his own memory problems and the assumptions of others, including his family that he is suffering from senility or early stage Alzheimer’s, Jack continues to push the case with little outside help others than from writer Colin Ryan who believes the former Lieutenant is on to something that could turn into a book for him.
While the novel does shift in point of view occasionally, the story is told primarily from the viewpoint of Jack Lehman. In so doing, the reader is treated to the viewpoint of a man who knows his memory is weakening and yet at the same time is sure that there is a case. A case that while shadowy and vague has some substance to it if he can just start pulling the pieces together. He also knows how others, including his family, feel about him and know that because of those assumptions, they aren’t going to take him seriously. That pain of self awareness as he rages against the dying of the light flows throughout the entire novel.
Featuring a complex central character dealing with the efforts of aging on so many levels, this novel becomes an engrossing story that works across the board. It becomes easy to cheer each success Jack has and suffer the agony of each setback. This book, much like “Witness To Myself” also from this author, pulls the reader into a world of personal pain and obsession where the character is on a hunt for vindication.
The Man From Yesterday: A Jack Lehman Mystery
By Seymour Shubin
Academy Chicago Publishers
Kevin R. Tipple © 2006
SMFS Members Nominated for the 2020 Agatha Awards
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