3 out of 4 stars
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Book Review: Guardian of Deceit by William H. Coles
Teenager Darwin Hastings, leaves Pittsburg, to live with his cousin, Luther Pinnelli, a star football player. Luther refuses to give Darwin money from Darwin’s personal trust fund, determined that Darwin make his own way. To earn his pocket money, Darwin first washes cars in Luther’s fleet, and does chores for Luther. He gains Luther’s confidence, eventually setting up high stakes poker games.
Darwin becomes good friends with Sweeney Pale, Luther’s girlfriend; and Dr. Adrian Melverne, an orthopedic surgeon, who becomes Darwin’s mentor. While Darwin is trying to work his way through high school and college, Luther’s life is full of scandal and drama. He is approached to “throw” a football game, thus manipulating the score. He marries Sweeney, who he doesn’t really love, is accused of using performance-enhancing drugs, is involved in high stakes poker games, drinks, has sex with a number of girls and physically abuses Sweeney, Then Betsy, daughter of Luther’s household manager, is missing, and Luther is one of the last people to see her. This is the mystery of the book, where is Betsy? Her body is found, and Luther admits to an affair with her. He claims he did not kill her. So, who killed her, and what was the motive? Why does Betsy, a professional swimmer borrow large amounts of money from Dr. Melverne’s daughter, Helen? Is it really because being a professional swimmer is expensive, or is there another reason?
Darwin tries hard to become financially independent from Luther. He is determined that he will be a doctor. He thinks that he might like to have a practice like his mentor. His mentality is different from Dr. Malverne’s though; he is more interested in showing care and concern with his patients. While Darwin is interning with him, Dr. Malverne sees one patient that has severe leg pain and swelling. Malverne's diagnosis is that the patient has a torn meniscus muscle and there is nothing he can do. The following week, Malverne puts off returning the patient’s four phone calls. Finally when he sees the patient, Dr. Malverne orders an ultrasound test, and discovers a blood clot. Melverne sends him to the hospital, where the patient is in acute respiratory distress from the blood clot for days. Darwin wonders what happened to him, looks at the notes in the patient’s file, and sees they have been altered. Darwin finds out that the insurance company policy is that all records be examined and edited so that no mistakes are listed, therefore lawsuits can be avoided. The patient sues Dr. Malverne, and Darwin is forced to choose between testifying against his mentor or ignoring his values.
I liked the theme of the book; the life Darwin chose was to maintain his values of honesty, caring, truth, and hard work. Midway through his studies, he realizes that he doesn’t want to be a person who lives with false values, exaggerated confidence or disregard for others’ feelings. The cover of the book is very artistic. It is indicative of the clean, honest life that Darwin wants to live, while the world around him is full of indiscretions, lies, deceit, and abuse. There are also excellent drawings in the book that reflect the content.
The main characters are well developed, and there are some surprise entanglements between the characters. Darwin, the main character is, “squeaky clean,” so when his wife has investigators checking his background and activities, they can’t find something, anything, that Darwin has done wrong. Yet Helen claims she has evidence of Darwin’s alienation of affection and a relationship with a colleague, a fellow student he has known for years.
I rate this book 3 out of 4 stars. There were numerous places where the flow of words was awkward, particularly a fight scene where the men fighting – during the scene, the two men are referred to as the Hispanic and “the Black. There are run-on sentences, incorrect tenses, and a few misspelled words. As I read, I felt like I was reading a soap opera. There are too many things going on: affairs, a child produced as the result of an affair, murder attempts, hints of mob activity, marital abuse, sexual harassment, and the death of the housekeeper’s daughter..
Guardian of Deceit
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