73 year-old Jack Lehman, a long-since retired police lieutenant, receives a tip from an old informant concerning a $1,000,000 robbery. He rushes to the police headquarters to pass on the information to the chief. But, by the time he arrives at the station, he can no longer remember the names of the informant and the victim, nor can he recall any details of the crime. Since no crime of that magnitude has been reported, the police are condescending and dismissive.
Lehman knows that a crime has been committed. Trouble is, Lehman has early Alzheimer's Disease - he's lucky if he can remember his own telephone number. The police can't be counted upon to follow through on Lehman's tip. They see Lehman as a befuddled old codger who imagines crimes. Lehman's family is unsupportive and unsympathetic as well. His new second wife is barely able to cope with Lehman's changing mental status. His adult son only criticizes.
Driven by his need to solve one last case, Lehman slowly, painstakingly devises ways to compensate for his failing memory and confusion. For help, he turns to the one person who will really listen to him, the journalist who is writing a series of articles on Lehman's career as a detective. No sooner have the two of them figured out the identity of the informant, than he goes missing. Then members of the informant's old gang turn up dead. Lehman thinks that someone is out to get him as well. But Lehman is never sure of his mental faculties anymore (and neither is the reader, for that matter).
This detective novel by octogenarian, Sidney Shubin, is remarkably sensitive and effective. The mystery takes second place to the human drama as Lehman struggles to live with his Alzheimer's Disease. Shubin takes the reader directly into the mind and heart of a man who is afraid to even admit that he has the disease, but who absolutely refuses to let his mind go without a battle. Several fiction authors have tackled aging and Alzheimer's in recent years, most notably Michael Chabon in The Final Solution (a portrait of Sherlock Holmes as a nonagenarian) and Alice Munro in The Bear Went Over the Mountain. I felt that this mystery novel is one of the best treatments of this theme that I've come across.
This book has helped me see life through the eyes of the Alzheimer sufferer. I highly recommend this fine book to all, but especially to those who have an aging parent or loved one.