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Review of Black Flames by Daniel Pearlman

Review of Black Flames by Daniel Pearlman

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Published by Tim W. Brown
Review of Black Flames, a novel by Daniel Pearlman. Originally appeared in the Spring 1998 issue of RE:AL.
Review of Black Flames, a novel by Daniel Pearlman. Originally appeared in the Spring 1998 issue of RE:AL.

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Published by: Tim W. Brown on Jul 14, 2009
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 Black Flames
. A novel by Daniel Pearlman. White Pine Press (10 Village Square, Freedonia, NY14063). 192 pages, paper, $14.By Tim W. BrownImagine a dozen of the most insufferable people you know— tremendous bores, pompousasses, unbearable snobs, big buffoons. Roll them into one package. Then stand back to witness thefun. This is what Daniel Pearlman has done with Hector Dinara Favallone, the tightly wrappedmain character of 
 Black Flames
.I hesitate to call him the novel’s “hero,” for Hector very definitely lacks heroism. A brilliant linguist (he speaks twenty-seven languages) who teaches at a small New England college,Hector is approaching retirement. Rather than sliding into his emeritus years gracefully, he findshimself awash in controversy:The college wants to promote him to full professor (incredibly, Hector remains anassociate professor in his sixties). To earn this largely honorific promotion, all he must do issubmit a book. Problem is, his magnum opus, a collection of notes proving that the Basque andGeorgian languages are related, is in tatters, some portions lost many years before, others stolenmore recently by deceitful colleagues. Hector uses his fantastic memory to recreate the missingnotes while he attempts to solve the mystery of their theft.Meantime, Hector’s home life is in turmoil. He suspects that his much younger wifeIsabella is carrying on a love affair. Hoping to catch her 
in flagrente delicto
with her paramour, hestalks her during her nighttime outings. Insensitive to his children’s obvious pain over their  parents’ marital problems, he orders them to buckle up and be strong like he was in his youthfulsoldier days.After a period of investigation and hypothesizing, Hector thinks he has uncovered themaster plot, one so grand it reaches as far as Moscow, which is targeting him because of hisstaunch anti-communism. Seduced by a Soviet spy, Isabella

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