The Mask of Time

Marius Gabriel, Author
Marius Gabriel, Author Bantam Books $22.95 (0p) ISBN 978-0-553-08988-2
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Beginning as a thriller, this new novel by the author of The Original Sin eventually descends into schlocky romance. Kate Kelly, a 40-ish beauty who runs a hotel in Vail, Colo., has become obsessed with the search for her father, an American soldier supposedly shot dead in 1959 after 14 years in Soviet prisons and labor camps. When a vicious attack leaves Kate comatose, her daughter, investigative reporter Anna, comes to Colorado. Her plane is met by mysterious, handsome and wildly wealthy Philip Westward, who met Kate in the course of his own quest for a vanished father, also imprisoned behind the Iron Curtain at the close of WW II. Anna finds the source of her mother's obsession--her grandmother's wartime diary revealing Kate's father's identity--and is herself brutally attacked. She and Philip set out to solve the mystery, but may pay for their knowledge with their lives. Gabriel creates some telling characterizations of minor players (such as the assassin Truck) and a few affecting scenes--most notably the diary flashbacks, which combine a sweet depiction of first love with realistic evocations of fascist Italy's horror--but the romance between Anna and Philip degenerates at the end into melodrama and such saccharine sentiments as ``How much she loved him! How he had suffered!'' (Mar.)
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