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An Uncertain Currency
by Clyde Lynwood Sawyer Jr & Frances Witlin

Category: Fiction / Mystery
347 pages; ISBN: 0966107276

Rating: 9/10  (Ratings explained)
Reviewer: Paul Lappen


Mario Castigliani is an aging Italian aristocrat with a real, but erratic, talent for clairvoyance. His last-ditch tour brings him to the dying cotton mill town of Floraville, Georgia. A local black civil rights activist, Roy Washington, is found hanged. Everyone thinks it was suicide (he was suffering from brown lung disease) except Beaufort Tyler, the Chief of Police. Tyler asks Mario if he would help out in the investigation, unofficially. Mario has something of a reputation in that area, having helped solve a couple of high-profile cases in the past. Mario readily agrees; he could sure use the money.

At times, the murder mystery is secondary to the story of Mario's life. As a boy in Italy, he hung around a local archaeological site. One day, he picked up an ancient coin, and, at that moment, la Lucia, his clairvoyant muse, entered his life. He disappointed his family by joining a traveling mind reader/showman named Willie Winckler, instead of choosing the expected career path of becoming a veterinarian. Willie is one of those who has perfected the art of staying one step ahead of the authorities, having several wives all over Europe. After the duo has moved to New York City, and Willie has married several more women, the authorities catch up with him, leaving Mario on his own. One night, Mario finds Oriana, his sweetheart from back home, sitting on his doorstep. They get married, but Oriana gets caught up in American materialism, and the marriage eventually fails.

This is an excellent read. The authors do a great job from start to finish, not just in putting the reader smack in the middle of the Bible Belt, but in creating interesting and real characters, too. It is highly recommended.


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