Book: Four Kinds of Rain

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Four Kinds of Rain: A Novel

Author: Robert Ward
Publisher: St. Martin's Minotaur

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 possession, the legendary 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.


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Four Kinds of Rain, Robert Ward’s first novel in almost a decade, brings readers back to his hometown of Baltimore (which was also the setting for his critically acclaimed magnum opus, Red Baker).

Bob Wells is a down-on-his-luck psychiatrist with more personal problems than most of his patients. The divorced, 50-something doctor has recently lost funding for his clinic. Knee deep in gambling debt and with little hope for the future, Wells derives his only pleasure from playing guitar in his oldies rock ‘n’ roll band. When a mysterious woman auditions as the band’s lead singer, Wells falls head-over-heels in love and determines to do anything necessary to keep her in his life—even if it means lying about the size of his bank account. Soon the pressure of keeping up the appearance of affluence begins to unhinge him; then one of his patients, a paranoid art dealer, reveals the location of a pricless Sumerian mask and Wells decides to steal the artifact—with disastrous results.

Although there are similarities between Ward’s 1985 classic, Red Baker, and Four Kinds of Rain (both novels seethe with angst and frustration, and both are brutally perceptive social commentaries about the sad state of the American psyche), Four Kinds of Rain tells a more humorous (although hardly lighthearted!) story. Fans of noir works by authors like Charlie Huston and Ken Bruen should definitely seek out this dark literary gem. Paul Goat Allen

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