Cover image for Face down in the park
Face down in the park
Foglia, Leonard.
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Publication Information:
New York : Pocket Books, [1999]

Physical Description:
328 pages ; 22 cm
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X Adult Fiction Central Closed Stacks

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Brutally attacked in Central Park, an amnesiac Brent Stevens joins forces with Queens aerobics instructor Tina Ruffo to find out who he is and who tried to kill him, only to unlock dark secrets connected to some of the most powerful names in Hollywood.

Reviews 1

Publisher's Weekly Review

In their second successful collaboration (after 1 Ragged Ridge Road), Tony Award-winning director Foglia (Master Class) and former cultural correspondent for the Washington Post Richards create as protagonist a man attacked in New York and robbed of his wallet, his identity and his memory. Having been knocked unconscious in Central Park, perhaps the victim of attempted murder, Brent Stevens is clueless as to his former life. When personal fitness trainer Tina Ruffo comes to his aid after he collapses outside the fabled Dakota apartment house, the aerobics maven from Queens finds that she can't resist helping the handsome stranger. Using the key to the hotel room found in his pocket, the pair discover his name and some salient facts, and begin to reconstruct his past and understand why he is now in peril. Meanwhile, out in Hollywood, Tinseltown's favorite golden couple, Jennifer Osborne and Christopher Knight, prepare for the premiere of their controversial new film, a figleaf-less adaptation of the creation story, which is stirring alarm among conservative religious groups. Gradually it is revealed that Brent's fortunes are tied to the stars through a blackmail scheme cooked up with slick Hollywood press agent Geoffrey Reed, involving compromising photos Brent had taken of the actors. Despite slow-motion character descriptions at the beginning and relentlessly chirpy but stiff dialogue, the authors' adept pacing and their smart parceling out of clues ratchets up the suspense. Given the authors' insider take on the entertainment industry, some of their West Coast creations are spot-on, with fictional interviewer Deborah Myers a perfect Barbara Walters clone. On the East Coast, however, while Brent makes an adequately credible befuddled hero, Tina's heart-of-gold tough cookie verges on the stereotypical and her constant exclamatory statements and interjectory tics ("Paula H. Prude!" "Jerry H. Seinfeld!") merely annoy. These cavils notwithstanding, this is a peppy story with appealing moments of celebrity titillation. (Mar.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved



Chapter One I was the first thing he saw. The letter I. The capital letter. Was he really seeing it? Or dreaming it? He wasn't sure. It filled his entire field of vision, a black I -- floating against a swirling white...something. He couldn't make out the background. Didn't want to try for the time being. The I was puzzling enough. What did it mean? Was it a message? God speaking to him in some way? "I am the way, the truth and the life. He who believes in Me will never die." Maybe he was dead and this was the beginning of the aftermath, the slow sorting out that the priests had told him about as a boy, when his eternal self would emerge from its earthly shell and his true essence would finally shine clear, as the letter was clear. His body felt numb, heavy, as if he would never get up again. His right cheek was cold. So all physical sensation had not left him. He heard a faint voice inside his head, arguing that numbness wasn't death. Not yet anyway. And the isolated patch of cold on his cheek was growing colder. So, no, he couldn't be dead. It had to be a dream then -- the swirling and the heaviness that rooted him to the spot and the stark letter I that kept coming toward him, bigger and bigger, like a soldier on the march. He blinked his eyes and slowly lifted his head. A wave of nausea swept over him, and he quickly put his head back down again. He had the sensation of spinning through space and remembered another time he had fallen down. He must have been three or four. He had scraped his knees badly on the pavement. As he sat there, stunned, blood had risen to the surface of his skin. Bright, tiny drops at first that formed a trickle, then a ribbon of red that snaked down his leg. He had begun to cry. Someone had picked him up and held him high in his arms. The image was suspended in his mind, like the letter I was suspended in the whiteness. But he couldn't say who the man was or, indeed, if he was even the boy with the tear-stained face in the man's arms. It all looked familiar enough, like a photograph in a family album. But it promptly faded away, and the swirl returned. He lay there for a while. The next thing he was aware of was a hand touching the I. He assumed it was his. Whose else could it be? The proof would be if he could move the fingers. He concentrated hard. The index fingers rose and fell several times in a faint tapping motion. Aha! It was his hand, after all. He had pretty much concluded beforehand that he wasn't dead, but this confirmed it. He was putting things together, making progress. He lifted his head a second time, shifted it slightly to the side, and saw two more letters. G-I-N. He had an urge to laugh, but that physical reflex didn't seem available to him now, no sound came from his lips. "Gin." He couldn't remember whether he liked gin or not. Had he ever drunk it? It would come back to him when he woke up. Vodka, yes. That much he knew. Gin was clear like vodka, though. Had he gotten the two confused? Maybe gin was responsible for the dull ache he was starting to feel in the back of his head. He was going to have one hell of a hangover, if that was the case. But something told him it wasn't so simple. That wasn't why he was lying here, his body leaden and his cheek icy cold, with visions of the alphabet passing before him. It was more complicated than just too much liquor and an incipient hangover. There was some other reason for what he was experiencing. But finding an explanation required too great an effort. It was taking all his strength just to keep his head up. He decided to lie back down. He would puzzle things out later. Tomorrow. Whenever he woke up. Gently, as if he were sinking into a downy pillow, not onto the hardness of stone, he rested his cheek next to the capital I. As he did, his only desire was to be clean. Washed clean in the blood of the lamb. No, that wasn't right. That's what the priests said. A different boyhood image flashed into his mind -- the blackboard in his first-grade classroom. If you were good, you got to wipe it with a wet cloth for the teacher. Back and forth, until all the chalk marks were gone. After the water dried, the blackboard looked brand-new. Yes, that's the answer, he thought, before he lost consciousness and slipped into a tunnel of darkness. I can wipe it all away. I can be clean again. A clean slate. Copyright © 1999 Leonard Foglia and David Richards. All rights reserved.