Umbrella of Glass

Henry Alley, Author Breitenbush Publications $14.95 (213p) ISBN 978-0-932576-61-3
Aging reporter Dale Vestbern is assigned by his minor Arkansas newspaper to write an article about Barr Rickover, a medical charlatan who built an enormously profitable medical empire in the 1940s by promising to cure cancer. Vestbern travels from one small Ozark town to the next, meeting Rickover's evasive relatives and coping with hostile townspeople, but managing to piece together a murky history of an ambitious huckster who eventually spent four years in jail for fraud. During his travels, Vestbern gradually uncovers his own deeply troubled past, and it slowly becomes apparent to him that Rickover, during his heyday as healer, played a pivotal role during Vestbern's hospitalization for depression. The uneven, clumsy weaving between past and present, the constant shifting of points of view and the proliferation of lethargic and nondescript characters deprives this novel by the author of The Lattice of vitality and focus. (Dec.)
Reviewed on: 01/01/1988
Release date: 01/01/1988
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