cover image Witness to Myself

Witness to Myself

Seymour Shubin, Author . Hard Case Crime $6.99 (250p) ISBN 978-0-8439-5590-3

This tepid entry into the Hard Case series of pulp crime novels details the tormented life of Alan Benning, as narrated by his cousin Colin, a true crime writer. For 15 years, Alan has kept a secret: a violent sexual outburst in which he may have killed a prepubescent girl in Cape Cod. Now a haunted 30-year-old Philadelphia lawyer, Alan finds relationships with women all but impossible. When he falls in love with a nurse, Anna Presiac, he's driven to discover the magnitude of his teenage crime, traveling back to Cape Cod to scour newspapers for the full details of his deed. The plot hinges on whether Alan will be caught by cold case Det. Mack McKinney, what Colin's role really is and how things wind up with Anna, but none of these strands prove very exciting. Eschewing the normal pleasures of the crime novel—suspense, mystery and intrigue—Shubin favors character study, but provides little character to care about: flashbacks are unremarkable, action is minimal and expository, and scenes from Alan's romance with Anna are perfunctory and overlong. Most crucial, the opening sets aside only a page and a half for young Alan's tragic encounter, robbing it of its credibility, much less the power to drive a novel about an emotionally crippling crime of passion. (Apr.)