by Bruce TierneyNovember 2006
Mystery of the Month
Top marks to veteran screenwriter Robert Ward for his provocative psychological thriller Four Kinds of Rain, this month's Tip of the Ice Pick Award winner. Four Kinds of Rain arrived at my house in a large box of books, all candidates for review. I was moved to check out the book by virtue of the blurbs on the back cover, all from writers I admire greatly and read regularly: George Pelecanos, Michael Connelly, T. Jefferson Parker, James Crumley. And yes, I am a sucker for a good blurb every bit as much as the next guy!More than 20 years back, Ward won the PEN West prize for best novel of the year for Red Baker. Shortly thereafter, he was approached by a Hollywood producer to write for the television show Hill Street Blues, and went on to write episodes of Miami Vice, New York Undercover and The Division. Now he returns to the literary scene with a clever noir mystery about a psychologist-turned-criminal. Bob Wells has always been a good guy. His college buddies all went on to successful careers, big houses, fancy cars. Bob, on the other hand, stayed in a seedy section of his hometown of Baltimore to administer psychological treatment to the homeless, the indigent, the needy. It cost him his financial security and, ultimately, his marriage. Now his life has hit the skids, and he needs one big score. When one of his few paying patients, Emile Bardan, spins a fanciful and paranoid story of a legendary mask, supposedly worth millions (and currently residing in Bardan's house), Bob realizes that the solution to his problems is at hand: He will steal Bardan's mask, and use the proceeds to fund a new life for himself far away from Baltimore. He rationalizes the action by telling himself that he deserves this new chance, reward for all the pro bono good he has done over the years. Then things go horribly awry, and that's all I am going to tell you!