If Tomorrow Comes

(Critical Survey of Contemporary Fiction)

The ecstasy of marrying a wealthy Philadelphian cruelly vanishes when Tracy Whitney faces a prison term. Framed for theft and tricked into a guilty plea, Tracy wastes no time in planning to avenge her wrongdoers and ease the pain of her mother’s untimely death. A full pardon from the Louisiana governor frees her to effect suitable retributions.

Each white-collar swindle propels Tracy to another, allowing her to gain dubious skills as a remarkably clever, beautiful, and elusive woman. Lurking in her shadow, however, is Daniel Cooper, an insurance investigator obsessed with capturing Tracy and returning her to prison. His obnoxious demeanor weakens his credibility with officials despite the accuracy of his leads.

The only other match for Tracy is Jeff Stevens, whose exploits are woven around those of Tracy. In Madrid, the competition between them ceases as Jeff outwits Tracy by delivering her stolen painting to their mutual contact. This final finesse sparks her anger but also compels her unqualified love and respect.

With thoughts of becoming a respectable married woman, Tracy boards a plane to rendezvous with her fiance. Seated next to her is Maximilian Pierpont, known to everyone as owner of the best Faberge egg collection outside Russia and near-victim of a con by Tracy on the Orient Express. There the story ends, but the conclusion remains quite speculative.

This latest novel by Sidney Sheldon furnishes enough sustained action to satiate even the most avid adventure seeker for a few hours of escapism. Action indeed is all; the characters serve merely as vehicles with which to drive an ongoing series of swindles under unbelievably perfect circumstances. Even Sheldon’s graphic description of life in a women’s penitentiary and a flashback to Daniel Cooper’s childhood do not lend any depth to character development. Yet silent applause swells for the heroine as that seemingly invincible woman sustains her escapades and receives exhilaration and wealth from them.