Monday, March 2, 2009

AT FIRST SIGHT by Stephen J. Cannell

By Stephen J. Cannell
Vanguard Press
387 Park Avenue South
New York, NY 10016
Hardback, 328 pages, $25.95
Genre: Contemporary Fiction

Chick Best, erstwhile millionaire, was at one time on top of the world, with a luxurious home in Hollywood, cabin in Big Bear, married to a beautiful woman, with a teenage daughter. But lately things have turned sour. Chick’s business is going under, his wife is having an affair, and his teenage daughter’s only interest is hanging out with a criminal biker and taking drugs. The family goes on vacation to Hawaii, where Chick encounters beautiful Paige Ellis and falls in love “at first sight.” Chick is despaired to learn Paige is married to Chandler, a handsome, altruistic man from a wealthy family who uses his time and money to help learning disabled kids. Chick makes an effort to get to Paige through Chandler, but it’s evident Paige is very much in love with her husband. Back home, Chick can’t keep his mind off Paige. When an opportunity arises to go to New York, he flies there, rents a car, and drives to her home in North Carolina, where his life begins its slow, horrific spiral downward into madness and deception.

Cannell’s depiction of the shallow mindsets of the materialistic rich is revealed with humor, although at times, it seems sad and unfathomable that people actually think this way. Chick is a character readers will not like, but his inner thoughts and insights, while usually obnoxious are, nonetheless, entertaining. The story has its suspenseful moments and the reader will root for Paige, an intelligent woman who grieves the death of a man she was very much in love with while trying to deal with Chick, a middle-aged, portly man with no morals who is slowly going mad.

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