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If Tomorrow Comes
(Sidney Sheldon)

Tracy Whitney is on top of the world. Young, beautiful, intelligent, she is about to marry into wealth and glamour. A late-night phone call from New Orleans, informs her that her mother has committed suicide. Betrayed by her own innocence, Tracy winds up in prison, framed by a ruthless Mafia gang, abandoned by the man she loves, and facing 15 years as the "wife" of Big Bertha.Beautiful, smart, and idealistic, Tracy enter into a life of hardship and violence. She vows revenge against all those who ruined her life, and becomes the nanny for the prison warden's young daughter, which eventually leads to her being released from jail. Desperate, unable to find work as an ex-con, she turns to a well-known New York City jewlery store owner (and fence) who helps her make some fast money in a jewel heist. Escaping with the goods, Tracy has an encounter with Jeff Stevens, a master con man.Stevens steals the jewels from Tracy, who realizes she's been had. She then cons Jeff, taking back her prize, and decides that Jeff will become another future victim of her brilliant revenge schemes. Not long after, Tracy travels to England and is introduced to Gunther Hartog, a world-class fence for valuable stolen property. This begins her life as one of the world's most clever criminals. Sheldon has some brilliant schemes, filled with humor and ingenuity (although they likely wouldn't work in reality), that follow Tracy as she encounters Jeff Stevens again and again. Although they "hate each other," we begin to see the growing appreciation, respect, admiration, and enjoyment of their mutual competition.Interpol, the FBI, and police departments and insurance companies around the world, all are trying to prevent Tracy from stealing priceless jewels, paintings, or other prizes. In every case they fail. Only Daniel Cooper, a plain-looking sociopath and insurance investigator seems capable of matching Tracy's brilliance.Sidney Sheldon's later works tend to fall into a formula, but his earlier novels are very well done. Of those earlier stories, "If Tomorrow Comes" is perhaps one of the most fanciful. He raises the criminal antiheroes to the level of perfectly sympathetic heroes, and convinces us that the "good guys" (the police and Daniel Cooper) are actually the villains. Following that premise, the book has a wonderfully happy ending, and makes the story truly memorable. Written in 1985, many of the burglaries and technical details of the crimes would likely be impossible nowadays. But Sheldon overcomes these logical objections, asking only for a small degree of willing disbelief.

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