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THE GOOD AND THE DEAD
Write Way Publishing, 2000, $23.95 (Hardcover), 246 pages
Reviewed by Christine Speakman
Ben Newman writes true crime stories, now in a twist of fate he's become the story.
Ben's sister-in-law is dead, murdered. Or was her death a case of mistaken identity? After all, Ben's other childhood schoolmates are dying, in accidents of course. Maybe it's just his writer's mind but Ben begins to think of this as one too many coincidences. Especially when someone calls his brother's house looking for him, just after his picture appears in the local newspaper…just like all the other recently departed.
In THE GOOD AND THE DEAD, author Seymour Shubin takes us on a journey back to the time of fear inspiring teachers and best friends. His mystery starts with the memory of childhood snubbing and evolves into one of payback. From the opening Prologue you are pulled into one man's compulsion to prove himself. But, who is doing the proving?
Ben Newman is a likeable character in that he is very normal and average. Mr. Shubin hasn't created a tough guy who must save his brother from a murder rap; this is a relief, there's no surprises that hit you from left field. Every chapter proceeds smoothly and flows within the context of the previous chapters. I especially liked the relationship between Ben and Nancy; they didn't immediately fall into each other and become the super couple we have been presented in other books. Here I'll go out on a generalizing limb and state that most of us have known a childhood schoolmate we would classify as being one of the "sleazy kids." You know the ones who dared to smoke, wear tighter jeans than everyone else, maybe a tad more makeup than the other girls; the ones' you always heard rumours about. Then when we meet them in later years, we still picture them as we thought they were. Mr. Shubin's writing of Nancy, seen through Ben's adult and child eyes, brought back my own memories of the children I had attended school with and had known. Memories of childhood rights and wrongs, makes you wonder about that schoolmate you used to laugh at, talk about, call your best friend.
If there's one item that I found a little weak in THE GOOD AND THE DEAD, it was the quickness of the ending. But that was tempered with the fact that I found this was more than a simple murder mystery/suspense novel; it was a glimpse of how easily you could find yourself in a true crime nightmare.
What would you do when your innocence of childhood and your efficient responsible actions of adulthood turn on you? Read Seymour Shubin's THE GOOD AND THE DEAD and find out.
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