The Keeper of Dreams

Peter Shann Ford, Author Simon & Schuster $24 (304p) ISBN 978-0-684-87219-3
With the exotic and harsh background of the modern Australian outback, Ford's debut novel spins a complex yarn of aboriginal mysticism, hocus-pocus and revenge. When the sacred stone of a long-suffering aborigine tribe is stolen, the tribe's wise men invoke ancient magic to punish the thieves and hasten the totem's return. The sacred relic is the foundation of the tribe's holy spirits and must be recovered or the tribe will perish. After aborigine sorcerers conjure death spells, the lackeys holding the stone start to drop in the acrid dust of Australia's northwestern deserts. However, the brains behind the theft is multibillionaire Australian media mogul Owen Bird, whose wealth, greed and arrogance will require special magic to combat. Ford suspends credibility as the sorcerers telepathically summon Dr. Robert Erhard, a full-blooded aborigine who was adopted by a white Australian family as a child, when aboriginal youngsters were forcibly taken from their families. Now a scientist with NASA, Erhard lives in Houston, but he hears the call of his people from 10,000 miles away, and realizes that his blood tribe is in trouble. Ghosts and hallucinations propel him back to Australia to serve as the tribe's most powerful weapon, an invisible ritual assassin. This long spiritual journey is disrupted by tangents that flashback seemingly every detail of Erhard's life, with excursions into the convoluted and melodramatic lives of the supporting characters. The final confrontation is a humdinger of suspense and excitement, but getting there requires patience. What Ford does best is to vividly portray aboriginal life, traditions and religion, and the persistent racism directed against them for generations. Agent, Robbie Anna Hare of Goldfarb & Associates. (Sept.)
Reviewed on: 09/04/2000
Release date: 09/01/2000
Hardcover - 304 pages - 978-0-7432-1474-2
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