Book Review: Montaro Caine by Sidney Poitier

First of all, yes, he is THAT Sidney Poitier, the actor whose films include “A Raisin in the Sun,” “Lillies of the Field,” “To Sir With Love” and “Uptown Saturday Night.”
And he’s only writing his debut fiction novel now?  Yes.
Is he any good?  Yes.

Does he have the same mastery as a writer that he has had as an actor?  No.
Sorry, Sid, but close isn’t good enough.  Horseshoes and hand grenades, you understand…
The concept behind the plot is stellar and an immediate grabber: two children, a boy and a girl, in separate locations and at slightly different times are born, each one grasping a coin in their fist.
The coins are composed of other-worldly elements that defy scientific analysis and resist all manner of explanation.
At the center of this mystery stands the title character, Montaro Caine, a CEO under fire in both his business and personal life.
Poitier weaves a convincing protagonist out of these bizarre circumstances and keeps the suspense factor nice and taut.
Then he starts adding more and more characters and pretty soon the erstwhile reader is wondering whether he needs to start keeping some sort of scorecard.  Even so, one roots for Montaro Caine, a testimony to Poitier’s talent at fleshing out his principal character.
Poitier’s concept is great, his prose – although occasionally awkward – is actually much better than one would expect from a debut effort.
The problem is, in theatrical terms, he has no Third Act.
Poitier keeps the reader interested for more than 300 pages and then cops out.  Rather than an awe-inspiring scene or message, the reader is left with the kind of resolution that feels like less of a science-fiction thriller and more of a latter-day morality play along the lines of the earlier version of David Wise’s “The Day The Earth Stood Still.”


Over the course of the novel, the two children bearing the mysterious coins meet, fall in love, marry, and fulfilling some unspecified prophesy, become pregnant.  What will their child be like?  Will he or she be born bearing another coin?  Will the world survive?  What happens next?  Are we getting sufficiently Messianic yet?
As any good writer would, Poitier’s fictitious world bears imprints of this one: there are characters who are fashionably autistic, there are several characters with Asperger’s Syndrome who prove vital to the plot, there are references to Sexual Addiction and drug dealing.
The man imagines and writes well.  He just needs a Third Act.
Recommended, with allowances…  (Three-and-three-quarters stars out of a possible five.)

About jaypochapin

Married adult human male, father, brother, son, writer, voiceover actor and humorist. Frequently funny, sometimes snarky, occasionally profound. Beatles, Stones, Who, Python, Firesign Theatre, Shakespeare, Bogart/Bacall, Marx Brothers, Alice Cooper and more besides. Have worked as many things: traffic reporter, disc jockey, newscaster, interviewer, producer, copywriter, voice over talent, teacher, emcee, housekeeper, janitor, uniformed security officer, bagel baker's assistant and more, but don't let the uniform fool you, baby! I ... AM ... THE WRITER!

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