Title: If Tomorrow Comes
Author: Sidney Sheldon
Genre: Crime Fiction/Thriller
Date Of Publication: 1985
Number of Pages: 416
Publisher: Grand Central Publishing
Sidney Sheldon’s “If Tomorrow Comes” is a classic crime and thriller novel that depicts the uncertainty of life and society’s flaws. Tracy Whitney, a beautiful intelligent banker at Philadelphia Trust and Fidelity Bank and fiancée of Charles Stanhope III is devastated by the news of her mother’s death which turns out to be suicide. A little digging reveals the punchline was due to bankruptcy and implication of fraud by a Joe Romano, Mafia underdog. Irate with anger, Tracy storms his home with a gun and accidentally pulls the trigger when Romano tries to rape her.
Things spiral down fast as Tracy is indicted for attempted murder and framed up for robbery. She is deceived by her attorney and the court judge and sentenced to fifteen years in Southern Louisana Penitentiary for Women. Pulling her last string, she makes a call to Charles where he delivers a final blow of disassociating himself from her and their unborn baby. A baby she finally looses under the harsh treatment of inmates.
Miraculously, Tracy is released on account of a heroic situation and she is finally free to mete out her revenge on the men in her blacklist. Faced without a job, she’s dragged into the dark side of business and becomes good at her game, playing with the big guns and doing so successfully. Despite her claim to be done with men, she is soon tangled in the web of love with a fellow con artist, Jeff Stevens. Their relationship begins rocky, full of competitions and passing attractions that Tracy never let it get in her way. She was done with men as far as she was concerned but as they say, love is mysteriously blind. Not long after, they are playing together, making the world their adventurous playground with the tails of justice running jaggedly behind them. How long before Tomorrow comes.
This book is divided into three parts:
- Book One (Chapter 1 – 12)
- Book Two (Chapter 13 – 15)
- Book Three (Chapter 16 – 34)
A deep attraction to Sheldon’s books apart from his writing style, constructive scene layout and pointed conversations, is his obvious liking to a strong lead female character which is quite refreshing from the onslaught of weak pathetic female characters that are normally hexed with the alpha male.
The point of view is evenly placed as Sidney alternated between a Third person Limited and Omniscient Point of View. This, in my opinion, was just right as we get to focus more on Tracy’s actions and activities and sometimes get catapulted to a backstory of an important character whose paths gets to cross with our protagonist.
The setting kicks off between New Orleans and Philadelphia, then climaxes into various countries splayed across Europe with both main characters conquering their targets.
Tracy as at the beginning of Book One is an innocent sweetheart who is grateful for a beautiful relationship with her fiancé, a healthy child kicking within her, a good job with prospects of promotion and a reliable mother back at home. Sadly, before the end of Book One she loses everyone of this life’s blessings.
Sidney’s apt telltale of prison experience was both real and very practical. In confinement institutions for both male and female without the symbiotic relationship with the other gender, human desires force them to turn on themselves and most times its done violently. In Tracy’s case she is penetrated with a metal object and beating to unconsciousness which leads to a miscarriage. As low and dark as this moment is for her, Tracy still finds the strength to bounce back unbroken.
I will survive, Tracy thought. I face mine enemies naked, and my courage is my shield.
It becomes a dawning observation that an overwhelming transformation had taken place in the bing. A place to be broken, yet she rises dignified. In this context, I viewed Tracy synonymous with a Phoenix bird; Rising out of the ashes, reborn.
And with that bird was one burning motive: Revenge.
Joe Romano: “Your old lady held out on me. She didn’t tell me she had a horny-looking daughter…”
Anthony Orsatti: “Joe Romano works for a man named Anthony Orsatti. Orsatti runs New Orleans…”
Perry Pope: “By pleading guilty, you save the state the expenses of a trial…”
Judge Henry Lawrence: “For the next fifteen years you’re going to be incarcerated in the Southern Louisiana Penitentiary for Women…”
And finally, Charles: “If you needed money that badly, you couldn’t have discussed it with me…Obviously I never really knew you… You’ll have to do whatever you think best with your baby”
One by One, she was going to make them pay even if she was locked up for fifteen years. What chances did she stand to have?
Tomorrow, she thought. If tomorrow comes
This is what I find very enigmatic in Tracy’s character. Her determination to get what she wants. For this reason, Tracy does not snitch on her inmates even after their brutal treatment. Choosing instead to see them as victims, she overlooked their actions and focused her bitterness on the main cause.
The blend of characters was a fitting mix. Tracy and Jeff had similar backstories. Both were betrayed by their spouses, found themselves in the con business out of a twisted situation, became lethally good at what they did, found perfection in the imperfect things that surrounded them.
In analyzing the later steps of Tracy, I think to myself, Was there really no other business or jobs available? Con artistry is not a dream job. If I was faced with the same challenges what would I have done? The question still hangs.
I base the major theme on “Societal Injustice”. The torpedo effect caused by the initial actions of the Mafia with the partnership of the judicial system led to the three-sixty change of Tracy Whitney. The Judiciary is well knows as, the last hope of the common man, If the last hope of man is comprised. How then shall the common man seek justice than to take things into his own hands. Tracy, a law abiding citizen now left to her element becomes a jewel thief, something she begins reluctantly out of desperation but soon cannot get enough of the thrilling exhilarating rush. There’s a shift somewhere. A paradigm shift from morality to self-aggrandizement.
On the part of Sheldon, I applaud the book for vast character growth and development —the character of Tracy grew from an innocent naïve woman to a tough cookie who combats injustice and seeks revenge— and the interwoven realities of relevant situations and the underlining revelation of the real owners of society.
However, I find Tracy’s “Out of Jail” card too convenient, her vengeance quite swift and hassle-free. For members of the Mafia, greater resistance and counter attacks were expected but the process was sped up and a little disappointing.
Also, the character of Daniel Cooper was, in my opinion, unstable. For a super-intelligent police detective, he sure is creepy as hell with a very bizarre background history and alarming obsession. Notwithstanding, he was a good opposition and kept me on an edge with his unfathomable instincts and hardened determination to catch Tracy.
If Tomorrow Comes is action-packed mixed with thriller adventures sprinkled with a bit of comedy and strange wit, and heists, well thought out and planned. To crime and mystery fans, you’d get a good knack out of this. As Sidney, rightly said,
“Usually, when people get to the end of a chapter, they close the book and go to sleep. I deliberately write a book so when the reader gets to the end of the chapter, he or she must turn one more page.”
― Sidney Sheldon
To continue with the journey of Tracy Whitney, the sequel to her first novel is Chasing Tomorrow, which happens to be on my Top Five Feb TBR. If you wish to continue the exciting journey, download the book on goodreads and find out what happens with Tracy after she meets big shot Criminal Maximilian Pierpoint on the fight to Brazil. Not much of a stranger to his modes of wealth, we are left with the hanging question of Tracy slipping back into the business we think she has left for good. Will she resist the dangling temptation?
We can only know, If Tomorrow Comes.
Link to Chasing Tomorrow #2 Tracy Whitney Series