The Listener

Marriage to a Stranger

The Negotiator

Obsession

The Target

 
Not Without the Truth
by Kay David
(Harl. Super #1321, $5.50, PG) ISBN 0-373-71321-5
***
As a ten-year-old child, Lauren Stanley witnessed her mother's death. As an adult, she remains puzzled as to what exactly happened and why she is haunted by a recurrent but inexplicable dream. Determined to understand, she travels to Peru, where the tragic event occurred while her mother was one of three consuls. An accident leaves her amnesiac and brings her to the attention of Armando Torres, an Argentine psychiatrist who runs a local medical clinic. He nurses her back to health. Lauren eventually remembers that his international reputation in dream interpretation was one of the reasons she went to the South American country. Yet, despite their mutual feelings for one another, he refuses to help her understand her visions.

Armando's refusal is partly motivated by his role that fateful night. Born to a wealthy family, he has preferred to fight for justice and social equality. He is a member of the Operatives (a secret-service type organization whose purpose is unclear, except for the fact that it justifies a series of loosely connected novels). Unbeknownst to Lauren, he was working undercover, investigating odd happenings at the U.S. Embassy and was present when tragedy struck. But while he wants answers about the past and sympathizes with Lauren's plight, he doesn't think the truth will free her - at least, not until he realizes someone else is out to get her.

Lauren and Armando are likeable characters with understandable flaws. She is a bit too anxious, but this goes hand-in-hand with her unresolved childhood trauma. Armando is a contradictory mixture of ruthless operative, dedicated doctor and relationship-shy bachelor. Which is perhaps why I had a hard time understanding why he is attracted to Lauren and vice versa. Despite their strong rational side, they attribute their feelings to something timeless, on the order of reincarnation. They also ascribe it to their first impressionable encounter, never mind that she was only ten at the time and that not too many young males have a healthy, undying passion for a child they only saw once.

A big deal is made of Armando's special talents at the interpretation of dreams, but I am not sure whether he is supposed to be a trained twenty-first-century psychiatrist or a shaman-like visionary with paranormal powers. To clarify Laura's problem, the narrative alludes to several psychiatric disorders, including false memory and posttraumatic syndromes, terms she apparently hasn't heard of until she browses through Armando's documents. While both conditions have received significant media attention over the last few years, I am quite ready to believe that not everyone has heard about them. But Lauren is a child psychologist's daughter who has been following these issues quite closely. Her ignorance just doesn't ring true.

Kay David's appreciation of Peru and Machu Pichu in particular comes through strongly. Unfortunately, as with the dry psychiatric descriptions, here too a little less travel talk and a little more story would have worked better. As for the mystery, while there are no big surprises or unexpected twists, several well-written action scenes keep the story moving and the pages turning. Overall, Not Without the Truth delivers, but the weakness in the romance plot and in the characters oblige me to withhold a stronger recommendation.

--Mary Benn


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