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INDIGO
By Graham Joyce

Pocket Books, January 2000

Reviewed by Shirley H. Wetzel

On the jacket, Stephen King is quoted as saying this book is "clever, engrossing, and very scary." Maybe I just didn't get it, but I found this book pretentious, muddled, and goofy. Joyce does write well, and perhaps his other books make more sense. The Indigo of the title refers to the color, which seems to have some mystical powers, including giving those who see it the gift of invisibility. Does indigo exist? Scientists say no, but artists say yes, if you look really hard.

Tim Chambers was a wealthy eccentric who surrounded himself with struggling artists at his homes in Chicago and Rome. He chose to live in those cities because that's where one is most likely to be able to see the elusive indigo, with all the wonders that brings. This is one of the things his estranged son Jack learns when he travels from his home in England to Chicago for the reading of his father's will.

Jack had rarely seen his father since the man left him and his mother when Jack was a small boy. The last occasion was 20 years ago, when dear old dad showed up at his college graduation and took him out to dinner. Dad spared no expense, taking him to a posh restaurant where, despite a strict dress code, no one seemed to mind that Tim Chambers was not wearing shoes or socks. The fact that the man never wore shoes seems to have no special meaning, and the author does not mention it again. Chambers tells the waiter they will not have pheasant, because there is no "r" in the month. The man is strange, we get it.

Jack has always hated his father, but is intrigued by what the old man's lawyer tells him and goes to Chicago to find out more. He becomes reacquainted with the half sister he last saw as a gawky teenager. She has turned into a beautiful and successful woman. At first she scorns him, but as they get drawn into the mystery that was their father she loosens up. It's not long before sparks begin to fly between them, lending a creepy subplot to the story.

As part of his duties as executor of the will, Jack is to have published 250,000 copies of his father's treatise on the powers of indigo and how one can become invisible. He is also to find a mystery woman in Rome to whom the bulk of the estate is left. If he does everything correctly he gets what's left over. There are some nteresting characters, none especially likable, and there is nice description of architecture in Chicago and Rome. Other than that, I can't think of anything positive to say about this book.

Other titles by this author include: DREAMSIDE, DARK SISTER, THE TOOTH FAIRY, and REQUIEM.


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