The Man From Yesterday: A Jack Lehman Mystery Paperback – May 1 2008
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From Publishers Weekly
Crime solving is tough enough for those with all their faculties, but it's even harder for 73-year-old Jack Lehman, a retired police detective in an unnamed U.S. city, who may be in the early stages of Alzheimer's in Shubin's uneven 13th novel (after 2002's A Matter of Fear). A phone call from a former informant alerts Lehman to a major crime—a theft of more than half a million dollars. Only trouble is that Lehman can't remember the informant's name or who was robbed and didn't write any of it down. Plagued by fears and doubted by everyone (cops, family, neighbors) except a freelance writer, Lehman follows almost forgotten instincts that lead him to a gang he once busted as well as to murders, deceptions and betrayals that perversely reinvigorate his mind even as they endanger him. Lehman is the only character who emerges with any clarity, and given the difficulty of assessing his perspective, that's not enough to shed much light on the crime or its eventual solution. (Dec.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.
This unusual and remarkably moving mystery boasts an unlikely but compelling premise and a brilliantly drawn protagonist, Jack Lehman. A former cop, Lehman is still called "the lieutenant" by most who know him. Indeed, he very much thinks of himself as a cop, even after 15 years of retirement. The problem is, at 73, the lieutenant's memory is cutting out on him at key moments. For example, when an informant calls to tell him about a half--million-dollar heist, the lieutenant can remember neither the name of the informant nor the victim. Minus those key details, Lehman's story comes across pretty weakly to the police captain at his former precinct. With his wife and son clearly in the doubters' camp, the lieutenant, determined to prove that the robbery did occur, turns to his one ally: an admiring young journalist named Colin Ryan. Readers will ache for Lehman, a dignified man suffering the indignities of aging, while being swept up in a suspenseful plot. A sad but ultimately redemptive look at life through the eyes of an older adult. Jenny McLarin
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Embarrassed by this performance, and anxious because his memory seems to be deserting him, Lehman decides to investigate and see what he can turn up himself. Although he possesses sound instincts, his memory constantly betrays him, leading the police and his family to conclude he's going senile. The only person who doesn't think Lehman is losing his edge is the perpetrator, who decides the ex-cop must be taken out of the picture.
The author of thirteen novels, Shubin knows how to keep a reader's attention, delivering a crackerjack mystery story featuring a man in a life and death struggle against both old age and decay and the criminal element he's determined to bring to justice. Lehman's despair is almost palpable: the audience, which knows Jack is not crazy, can only watch helplessly as those he loves and respects challenge his every assertion and act. Truly courageous, Lehman is a character who will win the hearts and the minds of readers, who can't help but root for this tough, determined underdog.
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.
As the novel opens, he knows one thing for sure. A former snitch of his, the name he can't remember, reached out and by phone told him that a big heist of over a million dollars had happened. The phone call had come after a long night when he was tormented by the fact that he simply could not remember the name of who his favorite late night talk show host was as he watched him on TV. He was still more asleep than awake when his snitch called and now, as he sits in front of Captain Hewitt, who runs his old 32nd District, he is humiliated and embarrassed.
As Captain Hewitt points out, while Jack can't remember the name, a heist that big means the police should have heard something. Jack knows that is true but he also knows the call happened. Driven by a need to prove himself as well as to dispel the notion that he is nothing more than a senile old man, Jack begins to work the case. A case that leads back to the past and scores unsettled. Beset by his own memory problems and the assumptions of others, including his family that he is suffering from senility or early stage Alzheimer's, Jack continues to push the case with little outside help others than from writer Colin Ryan who believes the former Lieutenant is on to something that could turn into a book for him.
While the novel does shift in point of view occasionally, the story is told primarily from the viewpoint of Jack Lehman. In so doing, the reader is treated to the viewpoint of a man who knows his memory is weakening and yet at the same time is sure that there is a case. A case that while shadowy and vague has some substance to it if he can just start pulling the pieces together. He also knows how others, including his family, feel about him and know that because of those assumptions, they aren't going to take him seriously. That pain of self awareness as he rages against the dying of the light flows throughout the entire novel.
Featuring a complex central character dealing with the efforts of aging on so many levels, this novel becomes an engrossing story that works across the board. It becomes easy to cheer each success Jack has and suffer the agony of each setback. This book, much like "Witness To Myself" also from this author, pulls the reader into a world of personal pain and obsession where the character is on a hunt for vindication.
Kevin R. Tipple (copyright) 2006
Author of Station In Life.