Bright Day

David Lehner, Author
David Lehner, Author Fithian Press $11.95 (112p) ISBN 978-1-56474-315-2
Reviewed on: 01/31/2000
Release date: 02/01/2000
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The anonymous narrator of Lehner's first novel is a ""sublecturer of linguistics"" at a European university who, ""with a career ruined and a marriage ended all in one sweep,"" returns stateside after a 10-year absence to start a new life in New York. He's got some wealthy, viciously racist prep school chums who want to initiate him into their fast-paced international criminal endeavors. Lehner doesn't pinpoint or explain exactly what line of business these sinister playboys are in; it has something to do with dealing guns, drugs and human organs. The protagonist makes a lot of money, fast, ""playing different roles and generally staying confident and flexible,"" but from New York to Miami, Lima and Biumba, the fiscal and moral stakes increase incrementally. He starts out small, ""signing off"" on deals for cars, drugs and guns, and impersonating a psychologist. Soon he witnesses a stabbing and is involved in black market organ deals. A few questions reveal, not surprisingly, that he is playing a crucial role in a vast network of evil: as a relief worker delivering food, he plants military targets; as a drug specialist helping to prevent the spread of an epidemic, he assists a government's genocidal plot. His love interest, Vera, is a gorgeous, arrogant femme fatale who takes assignments to perform mysterious medical procedures. Readers will have trouble believing anything this shallow character says, especially when she falls for the decidedly ordinary narrator. While Lehner's scenic locales (which also include Madrid, Barcelona, Rome and Paris) and high-rolling criminal adventures play to the darker Walter Mitty in every reader, the murky and inscrutable plots and prop characters they revolve around make this a confusing if ambitious effort. (Feb.)
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