Howard Fast has written over 40 novels, everything from April Morning
, a historical novel about the Revolutionary War, to An Independent Woman
, the last book in his series about an immigrant family in California. In Redemption
, the author dabbles in the world of suspense fiction.
Ike Goldman, the smart and gentle 78-year-old retired law professor who is the heart of the novel, is probably a version of Fast's current self--a veteran of all kinds of political and social wars who has opted for a quieter life of non-involvement. When he spots a woman about to jump from the George Washington Bridge late one night, he stops almost automatically to talk her out of it "because I've opened that door myself a hundred times..." But he knows that you can't really save a life that easily. What he's not prepared for is falling in love with a woman 30 years younger than him.
Elizabeth Hopper, the depressed and abused former wife of a crooked Wall Street wheeler dealer, is equally surprised and delighted by her growing love for Ike. They overcome differences in age and religion and plan a wedding. Then, six weeks after they meet, Elizabeth's ex-husband is found shot to death. A note written in lipstick matches her own brand; the gun used in the crime belongs to Ike, missing after a robbery. Goldman recruits one of his former students to defend Elizabeth, but as evidence of her apparent guilt accumulates his own doubts increase. We share those doubts, even though in our hearts we know that Howard Fast the novelist is too shrewd to let Ike Goldman live out his remaining years without the woman he loves. --Dick Adler
From Publishers Weekly
Veteran author of more than 40 books, octogenarian Fast (Spartacus; The Immigrants) pastes together courtroom drama with a May-December romance in this eminently readable but equally forgettable novel. Elizabeth Hopper is about to jump off the George Washington Bridge when retired Columbia Law professor Ike Goldman intervenes. Despite differences in age (he's 78, she's 47), religion (he's Jewish, she's convent-raised Catholic) and vocation (his is contract law, hers art history), they fall in love while sharing the Sunday New York Times, takeout from Zabar's and his Riverside Drive apartment. After two months, Ike proposes. Then Liz is arrested for the murder of her ex-husband, a violently abusive, dishonest investment banker. Though Ike loyally pulls together a defense team and support group from former students and colleagues, in his heart he cannot stop questioning her innocence. Poetic and courtroom justice triumph with satisfying if not always credible certainty as the black female public defender puts the aggressive prosecutor to shame. While the story is laid out with competence, the development is thin, especially the courtroom scenes. And the character portrayal is dangerously facile: Liz's evil ex-husband is nearly a caricature, the real murderer is a convenient walk-on. Even Ike lacks complexity: he is another of Fast's righteous heroes, Liz another good woman who just needs a man to protect her. Threatening their love, and the story's pace, is Fast's penchant for inner dialogue, which makes the reader yearn for the muscular prose and fiery idealism of Fast's early work. Literary Guild selection. (July)
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