Four Kinds of Rain
by Robert Ward
“…a highly entertaining new twist to the bumbling-criminal subgenre…” Booklist
Broke, recently divorced, and a total deadbeat, Bob Wells has spent his life as a psychiatrist only doing good in the world. When one of his patients with clear paranoid delusions starts to lose a grip, Bob has no choice but to intervene. Emile Bardan is haunted by demons, and he believes that someone is trying to steal his most prized possesion, the legendeary Mask of Utu. Bob thinks it’s all part of Emile’s imagination until he discovers that Emile is telling the truth and that the mask is worth millions. It’s Bob who may actually be the one losing his grip. He’s tired of helping people for nothing, tired of being treated like dirt-and while he may have met the girl of his dreams, he doesn’t want to lose her because he can’t take care of her. There is only one thing to do:Bob is going to steal the mask himself: But doing so may mean making the biggest mistake of all-as he proceeds down a path into a dark abyss from which there is no return.
“Robert Wells, the hapless psychiatrist hero of Ward’s superior noir novel, has spent many thousands of hours helping people at his free clinic in Baltimore. While treating art dealer Emile Bardan, who’s suffering from paranoid delusions, Wells learns that Bardan owns a priceless Sumerian mask representing Utu, the “god of justice and vengeance.” The no-longer-altruistic Dr. Wells starts to scheme to steal the mask and sell it to his patient’s worst enemy and rival, Colin Edwards. But things don’t go quite as expected, and the twists come fast and furious as Wells discovers that crime, like psychiatry, has its own peculiar bylaws. At once admirable and devious, Wells unsettles as much as he compels our sympathy. Ward (Red Baker, winner of the PEN West prize for Best Novel of 1985) has been a writer and producer on such TV shows as Hill Street Blues and Miami Vice.”
—Publishers Weekly (starred review)
“Hard-drinking Baltimore psychologist Bob Wells has a difficult time making good decisions. So far he’s punched a cop, gambled away his life savings, and ruined his marriage. Worst of all, he’s devoted his life to helping the downtrodden, only to find that his selflessness hasn’t made him rich and famous. All he has to live for is his bar band, the Rockaholics, and they’ll lose their only gig if they don’t find a better singer. Enter Jesse Reardon, a smoky-voiced West Virginian who steals the show–and Bob’s heart. Jesse won’t date a poor man, so Bob hatches a plan to steal a priceless Sumerian mask (ironically, the god of justice) from one of his few remaining patients. Things go right, then wrong, then right and wrong again, and Bob has to decide just how far he’s willing to go to betray his long-held hippie ideals. (Answer: pretty far.) Ward, known by aficianados for Red Baker (1985), has added a highly entertaining new twist to the bumbling-criminal subgenre, exploring what happens when altruism goes unrewarded.”