Friday, June 3, 2011

Review - Sidney Sheldon's After the Darkness by Tilly Bagshawe

Sidney Sheldon's After the DarknessSynopsis from the Back of the Book -

What happens when the woman who has everything loses everything . . . and the man who has nothing realizes he has nothing to lose?

The young, naive wife of a multi-billionaire financial superstar, Grace Brookstein's life is the stuff of fantasy. In New York, Lenny Brookstein is the King of the Wall Street social scene, both liked and respected in the worlds of high finance and high society.

Then one day Lenny vanishes, his yacht discovered abandoned far out at sea. The police believe his death was no accident, that his involvement in a spectacular financial fraud was about to be exposed to the world. But Grace can't accept the terrible allegations now coming to light, and she will learn the truth . . . even if that truth destroys her.


First flaw - Why is Sidney Sheldon's name added to this book? I don't know. I searched cover to cover, but could find no explanation for it. He's no longer alive and I highly doubt he contributed anything to this story.

Second biggest flaw - By adding Sheldon's name and then delivering a story as haphazard as this with no sizzle, disappointing characters and loopholes the size of massive sinkholes, the book is doomed from the start.

Yes, as you can glean from this, I'm a Sheldon fan and his were some of the earliest books I read as an adult. More importantly, I like them to this day. They may not be sophisticated from today's perspective, but they were the best of their time (proof is in the novels still being published with his name). They had memorable characters, storylines and yes, even with some loopholes, managed to retain their charm and overall entertain. I just can't say the same of Tilly Bagshawe's After the Darkness (Harper, 401p, Isbn-0061728314).

I'm sorry to say I did manage to ultimately finish this book. The word "outraged" doesn't begin to cover what I think of the fact that one of my favorite author's name has been added to such a book. So, if you're a Sidney Sheldon fan, avoid this book at all costs. As for the rest of you, read at your own risk.

Spoilers ahead!! Click the "Read more >>" button to reveal some secrets 

From the start I couldn't relate to the character of Grace Brookstein, a naive child-woman, who marries a super rich father figure, then falls out of favor and into jail. Where she apparently has some sort of personality shift and becomes a super smart woman who escapes a maximum security prison wing with an ease that belies her hitherto cushioned lifestyle. Naturally, she outsmarts and evades with ridiculous ease a massive manhunt for her that includes psychotic FBI agents, jealous society friends, vengeful backstabbers etc while taking her revenge and of course, solving the mystery of the missing dollars. Now keep in mind that this is a mystery that involves massive amounts of money that the public has been defrauded of, to find which there is massive hue and cry and which the FBI with all its countless resources is unable to locate. Yet Grace (first in prison and later, on the run) with the aid of an ordinary PI (who's so successful that he still lives in his mother's apartment), is able to find the truth - what?! No explanation given as to how that PI found it all out or why the FBI wasn't able to. That's like asking me to swallow a purple elephant on top of a screeching green chimpanzee. So, no!

And then there is the romance that develops reverse Stockholm-syndrome like between Grace and Mitch, the cop hunting her. Again, what?! There is no reason given for this. In fact, the two don't even physically meet until near the end. And just like that, bam! love happens, at least on Mitch's side. I can understand Mitch beginning to develop respect for the wily way in which Grace (again and again and again and...yawn) evades the massive dragnet, but love? Oh, come on!

I won't even begin to mention that other (unnecessary tacked-upon) murders that further compound the plot and the ultimate reason given for them. The truth about the central whodunit is shocking only because the character who is supposed to have done it all, John Merrivale, has been described throughout the length of the book as a completely ineffectual person. Attributing the financial shenanigans to John - yes, that's believable to an extent, given his background - but that he did all those murders, had that affair, framed Grace, led the FBI astray and so much more... that's like asking people to believe that my Honda would like to disco dance with my goldfish!

You can only ask a reader to suspend belief so many times, before the reader, aka myself, throws up her hands in utter disgust and hurls the book at the trashcan.

Note - This book was received for review/feature consideration.
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  1. Adding Sidney Sheldon's name to a book that he did not contribute to should be illegal. This is basically false advertisement. His name is the first thing you see when you glance at the book and people will buy this book thinking that it is written by or with Sidney Sheldon. Tilly Bagshawe is an author that I will never read based on principle alone. I am quite sure that Mr. Sheldon is rolling over in his grave as we speak.

  2. I wouldn't say I'll never read Bagshawe again, but I do wonder why Sheldon's name was used in this case.

  3. I'd say this one was probably intended to make quick bucks by adding a well-known name, that's about it.

  4. Something along those lines, I'm sure...