J.F. Freedman,
Fallen Idols
(Warner, 2003)

J.F.Freedman presents his newest novel, Fallen Idols, the story of a serious project that went awry. It's all about an archaeological dig in Central America's Mayan ruins that begins well. The project director is a well-regarded professor with a solid reputation in his field. His wife and a team of volunteer students are eager and soon acclimated to the humidity and the heat. They all share the hope that La Chimenea will be another Palanque or Tikal.

Out of the blue, local authorities tell Professor Gaines that he must pack up and leave at once. There is no other option, and no room for negotiating. Antiquities are at stake here. They cannot be taken from the host country. No proof of wrongdoing is offered but it is clear that there is a cloud over the project.

In the retreat of the group, a tragedy occurs when Jocelyn Gaines is shot by bandits. Nothing will ever be the same for the professor. When he gets home, he begins to separate himself from everyone. He discards his academic life and moves to California, as far away from his three adult sons as he can go. He offers no explanations. The sons make inquiries about the lives of their parents. What they uncover is mysterious and almost sinister.

Freedman writes a suspenseful yarn about families. It's about the three brothers and the dynamics of their actions as they act out the search for clues. They draw closer to one another in their need for whatever part of a functioning family they can find. For me, the sons are the most appealing part of this novel although, to be even-handed, there is a wonderfully bright wife of one of the boys. There are vivid scenes and good conversations in the mix, which affirm Freedman's background in television and films.

- Rambles
written by Jean Marchand
published 4 October 2003

Buy it from Amazon.com.