They had planned it all carefully, Louisa and her brother Kel. On a lonely dark road late at night, the car was ran into a canal, her husband Ted in the passenger seat. Pretended car trouble, a lump of sugar keep the throttle open, melting away once it hit the water, completed the picture.
After all, Ted was a lush, drinking himself into oblivion every single day. Her purse and one shoe left in the car, screaming at a car passing by after she jumped into the canal.
Except when the car was towed from the water, the passenger door was open and no body could be found.
That’s the brief prologue.
The rest of the book is told in first person, “Ted” waking up in the water, floating down the canal. He was not where he believed himself to be, not who he had been for years, and not even when he thought himself to be. There’s forty pounds of flab on his gut.
He climbs ashore, beaten, with two broke ribs and a huge egg on his forehead. A wallet in his pants has business cards and a couple of credit cards that say Theodore Blaine. Why is he posing as this Theodore Blaine? Three thousand in cash as well. He buries everything but the cash and walks away from all the activity further back up the canal. He ends up being taken to a private hospital, at his own insistence.
There, he begins his recovery, beginning to work out. He refuses a psychiatrist, even though the young woman doctor says he’d been raving in the early days, speaking flawless Italian. The prognosis is amnesia and this is not the first time. he seems to have had another bout somewhere in his past.
He soon learns it’s 1964, but he has no memory beyond 1945, and he calls a contact number from the old memory, not really expecting it to be good, surprised when somebody shows up.
From this guy, he learns Jack-Rabbit Smith was thought dead in the latter days of WWII, He’d disappeared while ferrying a fortune in Lire across Italy.
Eight years before, he’d showed up in Port Dunbar, Florida with plenty of money, married Louisa two years later, and began investing in local businesses. Just two years before, he’d suddenly turned into a lush, drinking a fifth a day every day.
Here’s where it gets interesting. His old bosses, most of them dead or retired and replaced by younger men, are looking into dealings in his area of Florida. Two of the three are businesses he’s invested in. And one of those is his brother-in-law.
They want him to be their inside man. He’s not interested and they promise him no backing and not to take things into his own hands.
Suddenly, as the old saying goes, he’s between a rock and a hard place. These businesses he’d put money into had planned on the happy lush not paying attention to their doings and they are some hard men.
What are they up to?
Jack-Ted’s problem is he likes this new rich life he was living. He’s got to learn it all over, the prognosis is that he will never remember the life of Ted Blaine. He begins a new relationship with his wife. he’s pretty much the man she once married. Her brother and his associates think he’s suddenly out to get them. He can’t plan on much help from the old days.
And his biggest problem is, in his mind, he’s a young man, but his body is nineteen years older. He’s lost a lot of weight, but after years of neglect, he’s not in optimum shape.
Liked this one.
For more Forgotten Friday Books, check Patti Abbott over at Paatinase, her fine blog.