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An Uncertain Currency Paperback – February 1, 2000


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 352 pages
  • Publisher: Avocet Pr Inc; 1st edition (February 2000)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0966107276
  • ISBN-13: 978-0966107272
  • Product Dimensions: 8 x 5.5 x 1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 15 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (11 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #6,022,907 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Library Journal

Itinerant psychic performer Mario Castigliani and police chief Beaufort Tyler join forces in Floraville, GA, to investigate a suspicious death. An elderly black man, known for his spunk in Civil Rights days, supposedly committed suicide, but Tyler has his doubts--especially since Tyler's predecessor recently died the same way. Castigliani's authentic ability to read minds (Tyler never has a doubt) proves invaluable both to the plot and to the narrative, which includes frequent "unspoken" clues. The authors enrich the action with references to Castigliani's Italian past, local textile mill unrest, personal entanglements, and believable characters. An excellent read.
Copyright 2000 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From Booklist

This is not the first novel to feature a psychic as an amateur sleuth, but it is one of the better ones. Sawyer and Witlin have crafted an intricate story (it begins with a suicide that might not be suicide, but that's just the jumping-off point) that challenges not only their fictional sleuth but his readers as well. The wonderfully named Mario Castigliani, who makes his living as a performing psychic, is a fresh and interesting character; it's especially nice to see him say what many readers will surely be thinking: that almost all so-called psychics are charlatans. Despite being skeptical about psychic phenomena, the authors ask us to, please, just for the sake of argument, assume what this one man does is genuinely clairvoyant. Those able to make that assumption will be rewarded with a fine crime novel. David Pitt

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Customer Reviews

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I couldn't wait to see what would happen.
Prudence Holmes
Even with my long, hard training in literary dissection, I'd have to say that good art's the biggest mystery.
Fayre
An unputdownable book with alsorts of twists and turns that kept this reader engrossed.
Leigh

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

7 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Bison Hoag on February 4, 2000
Format: Paperback
One summer when I was staying with friends in Milan, a somewhat preposterous argument broke out, after a few too many Splugens on the balcony, over whether Milan's Duomo was a "technical tour de force" or a "lyrical masterpiece." After numerous noise complaints from the neighbors, and several threats of overt violence, we decided in solidarity that the Duomo was both a lyrical masterpiece and a technical tour de force. Then the cops showed up. An Uncertain Currency, the new mystery thriller by Clyde Lynwood Sawyer, Jr. and Frances Witlin, integrates much of the same lyrical eloquence and technical mastery that would seem to characterize the infamous Duomo. Not only is this a novel of captivating intrigue but, almost as importantly, not once, at any time or at any place, do any of the characters utter the phrase "Who knew?" The cops call on Mario Castigliani, a down-and-out Italian clairvoyant performing artist, to help solve a murder in a small town in Georgia. If you love a good mystery, you must get your hands on this book. I loved it, even without drinking a bunch of Splugens before I read it.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Fayre on March 25, 2002
Format: Paperback
Just out of four years in an Ivy League English department barracks, my reading eye is more than a little critical. In fact, I find it's hard to enjoy reading at all anymore.
That's why I'm so grateful for this book... and grateful for the way it swept me up into itself and kept me from doing anything else until I had scanned its last page, closed it, and put it down with a sigh.
In a sleepy Southern town, where no one's all good, but only one is bad enough to kill, my mind was filled with vivid, strangely intertwining stories and the clear contours of a few strong individuals.
Frankly, this was the first book I read for pleasure since I graduated last spring. Since it reminded me of how much fun a good book can be, I don't think it will be my last.
But exactly WHY is it so good? Even with my long, hard training in literary dissection, I'd have to say that good art's the biggest mystery. You'll just have to read it for yourself.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on January 23, 2000
Format: Paperback
A truly entertaining novel. An Uncertain Currency waltzes back and forth -- a superconcentrated mystery set in the modern American south on one hand, and a lyrical romance that originates in 1950s Italy on the other. The authors give us a clever mystery, steamy psychological tension, ethical dilemmas, longing, regret, troublemakers, innocents, and plenty more. All of it is observed with great humanity, empathy, and good humor.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Rebecca Brown on October 24, 2000
Format: Paperback
When Mario was 12 the Sight (la Lucia) first came to him at an archaeological dig near his home in Perugia, Italy & his childhood was changed, even his path in life.
Now, he is an Internationally Acclaimed Psychic & an aging, lonely Seer in a frayed silk suit, washed up in a sleepy Southern town where he is about to perform for the locals. The night he arrives one of the town's best beloved & larger-than-life characters is found dangling from a rope in his home, his Bible open at the page on which could be construed his suicide note.
Floraville's young police chief, borne of the warring farmlands & mill owners, an ex-mill worker himself, has nothing to lose & everything to gain when he hires on Mario to assist in solving what he knows & can't yet prove, to be a murder.
I thoroughly enjoyed the insights la Lucia offers Mario, like some puckish imp whispering in his ear all the silent comments unwary people think while their mouths utter utterly different words! & then Mario curses la Lucia & away she goes & he's left depending on his own wits.
An Uncertain Currency is a rare feast of memories, depravity, humor & redemption. Great gift material for those who love a thoughtful mystery with a twist! For my full review & eInterview with Clyde Lynwood Sawyer, do check out: [my website].
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Orrin C. Judd VINE VOICE on September 30, 2000
Format: Paperback
Imagine that Cesar Romero has psychic powers and that he, instead of Virgil Tibbs/Sidney Poitier, has been asked to help a Southern police department solve a murder case. Mario Castigliani is the handsome but nearly broke clairvoyant who has brought his mind reading act to Floraville, Georgia. Beaufort Tyler the personable young police chief enlists his aid to look into the apparent suicide of a local civil rights pioneer and union activist who seems to have hung himself. "Seems to" because his death could be linked to labor unrest at the powerful town mill, to the recent release from prison of a rabid racist, even to the similar hanging death of the prior chief of police.
The mystery though is simply the point of departure for a richly textured fish-out-of-water story, as Castigliani brings his cosmopolitan, continental sensibilities and his psychic gift to bear on this sleepy Southern burgh. The book is at it's best when he's interacting with the locals and attempting to understand their lives, an understanding made easier by his ability to read their thoughts. Less effective are the continuing flashbacks to his earlier life in Italy and on the stage. This all could be better handled in one longer passage early on, which would help the narrative flow of the novel.
At any rate, Mario Castigliani and Beau Tyler make an agreeable, if unlikely, team and the authors populate the town with plenty of interesting characters, some comic, others tragic. They also make it easy to suspend disbelief about Mario's paranormal powers, mostly treating him as hypersensitive to the thoughts of others, rather than having him resort to all kinds of mental pyrotechnics. Likewise, they show the many mundane tricks he uses to beguile his audience, which makes for one of the most absorbing sections of the book. By not pushing the psychic angle too hard, they keep the focus on the characters and deliver a murder mystery with a crafty twist.
GRADE : B
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