Wednesday, July 02, 2008

Sidney Sheldon - Rage of Angels

I knew of Sidney Sheldon as a writer of racy books, mostly bestsellers. It was only later, while watching an episode of 'I dream of Jeannie' that I found Sidney Sheldon was a scriptwriter too. I loved IDOJ and began thinking better of SS. Then I happened to see Rage of Angels on TV as a mini-series. It was well made, with Jaclyn Smith, much younger and slimmer Ken Howard, a very twisted looking Armand Assante. A good cast that performed well too. Ever since, it was 'sorta' on my wishlist.

When I finally laid my hands on it via, I read it almost (ahhh .. like in the olden days) at a stretch.

It isn't literature, but it is well written. No wonder about that, as Sidney probably got a lot of practice writing scripts. It is very well presented and researched. (Or rather the law-references look authentic enough) The plot is ambitious. The characters are definitely interesting. All in all, a very satisfying book.

The plot goes like this - Jennifer Parker arrives in New York, a bright law graduate and is recruited for research by a hot-shot lawyer in middle of his big case. She is used by the defendant, a mafioso - Micheal Moretti to threaten a witness. The hot-shot lawyer loses his case and tries to wreck revenge on the unwitting messenger - Jennifer. He wants her de-barred. But fortunately for Jennifer, the case is handed over to Adam Warner who saves her. A lonely, destitute Jennifer falls hard for Adam. Adam is likewise taken by the beautiful and spunky Jennifer. But he is married.  They have a torrid affair. On the other hand, Micheal Moretti also falls for Jennifer and pursues her relentlessly, until, on a rebound, she gives in to him, and causes a lot of problems for herself.

The book was written in 1980 when evil and good were very black and white. It is easy to see that Adam Warner is absolutely Mr. Right, and were he not married, life would have been a breeze for Jennifer. They would have married, she would have been  an able spouse and they would have been a perfect President and First Lady. But alas, Adam married his childhood sweetheart when she lost her father. On top of that, Mary Beth wants all the goodies associated with being a First Lady and would not release her husband. Adam Warner is too much of a gentleman to 'insist' upon divorce, bearing Mary Beth like a cross. In the current scenario, he would be a wimp goody two shoes who could not stand up for the woman he loved, rather than the godly figure he cuts in this novel.

Micheal Moretti is the personification of the devil. In fact Sidney compares him to Satan a couple of times. He is totally unapologetic about his business, sneering at the corporate types and says they are 'saintly' because they aren't caught. He mentions to Jennifer that she uses devious means to win her cases for bad people at times, so what is wrong with fighting his cases. Jennifer is quite taken in by his reasoning and is smitten by his passionate love-making.

Too bad the novelist chose the beaten path of punishing the ungodly at the end of the novel. If it had been written in current times when the morality is more ambivalent, it could have been an interesting blurring of common perceptions of what is good and what is bad.

"I try to write my books so the reader can't put them down," Sidney Sheldon explained in a 1982 interview. "I try to construct them so when the reader gets to the end of a chapter, he or she has to read just one more chapter. It's the technique of the old Saturday afternoon serial: leave the guy hanging on the edge of the cliff at the end of the chapter."

Yes, the old man knew how to write and made pots of money too - writing similar unputdownables.


Rhapsody said...

ROA was 2nd Sidney book I had picked after reading his Naked Face, I guess NF is the only one(?) where the protagonist is male. 'Tell me your dreams' (his best acc to me) and Morning, Noon and Night (the worst he wrote). Yes Sindey's books were indeed racy and I could finish them in one go.

couchpapaya said...

never much got into actually reading SS, but the movies were good fun. now that i think of it, making the characters such broad stereotypes is also the hallmark of a script-writer, u dont have so much space to actually develop the characters. this is also why i didnt get into reading him much, i like more meat to my stories!!! loved ROA when i saw it and dont remember the others but am pretty sure i enjoyed all the SS stuff i 'watched'.

dan brown almost seems to have taken foot-notes from SS, it seems after reading that excerpt. he used to be a hollywood hanger on :D


avdi said...

Rhap/Papaya, I read only one SS book n tht was the stranger in the mirror. He was quite horrible to the heroine in that one, and I never was much of a reader of pulp fiction.

In fact watching the TV series was the only reason I bought the book, but racy it was and I was able to 'race' through it. It had a weird end, but as the book was a bestseller AND a successful TV series, his purpose was solved.

rohit said...

Must be an enjoyable read Rage of Angels by Sidney Sheldon. loved the way you wrote it. I find your review very genuine and original, this book is going in by "to read" list.

avdi said...

Its a favorite. There was a nice miniseries on this one too.

design by