Cover image for Redemption
Fast, Howard, 1914-2003.
Personal Author:
First edition.
Publication Information:
New York : Harcourt Brace, [1999]

Physical Description:
276 pages ; 24 cm
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No one could be more surprised than Ike Goldman, a seventy-eight-year-old retired contract law professor at Columbia, when he discovers that the much younger woman whom he keeps from suicide on the George Washington Bridge opens a new world of love for him. Nor could he be more shocked than when she is arrested for the murder of her ex-husband. Has Ike's love for this woman whom he has known for only six weeks blinded him to the part of her that could have led to murder? Was the abuse that Elizabeth suffered at her ex-husband's hands enough to drive even this gentle, deeply religious woman to a desperate act? Is her show of faith only a mask for revenge? In the swirling thrust and parry of her trial, Ike is forced to examine his hopes, his beliefs, and his love for the woman whose life hangs in the balance. Howard Fast's newest novel combines the suspense of great courtroom drama with the ineffable connection between a man and a woman.

Author Notes

Howard Fast was born on November 11, 1914 in Manhattan. At the age of 17, he sold his first story to Amazing Stories magazine. The next year he sold his first novel, Two Villages, to the Dial Press for a $100 advance. During his lifetime, he wrote more than 80 books, including Conceived in Liberty, The Unvanquished, Citizen Tom Paine, Freedom Road, April Morning, The Immigrants, Second Generation, The Establishment, The Legacy, and Greenwich. He won the Stalin International Peace Prize in 1953.

A member of the Communist party, he served three months in a federal prison in 1950 for refusing to testify about his political activity. Blacklisted as a result, he founded his own publishing house, Blue Heron Press, which released his novel Spartacus in 1951. In 1957, he wrote a book about his political experiences entitled The Naked God. He also wrote a series of detective stories under the name E. V. Cunningham. He died on March 12, 2003 at the age of 88.

(Bowker Author Biography)

Reviews 3

Booklist Review

In a career spanning 60 years, Fast has produced more than 40 books, including several best-sellers. His most recent novel is a skillfully told mystery, the story of a 78-year-old retired contract-law professor at Columbia who becomes mixed up in a murder investigation after rescuing a mysterious woman from a suicide attempt. After preventing the much younger woman from jumping off the George Washington Bridge, and subsequently falling in love with her, Ike Goldman is shocked when she is arrested for the murder of her beastly ex-husband. As the story unfolds, Goldman is forced to question his own judgment and his belief in her innocence, for all of the clues in the case point to her guilt. Fast's faithful fans will enjoy this suspenseful courtroom drama and love story. --Kathleen Hughes

Publisher's Weekly Review

Veteran author of more than 40 books, octogenarian Fast (Spartacus; The Immigrants) pastes together courtroom drama with a May-December romance in this eminently readable but equally forgettable novel. Elizabeth Hopper is about to jump off the George Washington Bridge when retired Columbia Law professor Ike Goldman intervenes. Despite differences in age (he's 78, she's 47), religion (he's Jewish, she's convent-raised Catholic) and vocation (his is contract law, hers art history), they fall in love while sharing the Sunday New York Times, takeout from Zabar's and his Riverside Drive apartment. After two months, Ike proposes. Then Liz is arrested for the murder of her ex-husband, a violently abusive, dishonest investment banker. Though Ike loyally pulls together a defense team and support group from former students and colleagues, in his heart he cannot stop questioning her innocence. Poetic and courtroom justice triumph with satisfying if not always credible certainty as the black female public defender puts the aggressive prosecutor to shame. While the story is laid out with competence, the development is thin, especially the courtroom scenes. And the character portrayal is dangerously facile: Liz's evil ex-husband is nearly a caricature, the real murderer is a convenient walk-on. Even Ike lacks complexity: he is another of Fast's righteous heroes, Liz another good woman who just needs a man to protect her. Threatening their love, and the story's pace, is Fast's penchant for inner dialogue, which makes the reader yearn for the muscular prose and fiery idealism of Fast's early work. Literary Guild selection. (July) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Library Journal Review

At 78, Ike Goldman talks a much younger woman out of jumping off the George Washington Bridge. Then he falls in love with her. And then she's accused of murdering her former husband. From an author, past 78 himself, who's written over 40 books. (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.



I. Fast-Mail After so many years it seemed too late for hope--he'd never really get used to it. For Francis Muldoon, coming out at this hour, everything felt confused and out of place, as if, mysteriously, he found himself not on the porch of his cottage but instead somewhere on a shuttered passageway running between dream and the waking world of wharves, steamers, and the broad bend of the great river that flowed at the foot of his street. The light helped him a little but not much. A late winter evening fell fast over the sooty roofs of the city. The last ferry across to Gretna was only an ancient smoke smudge against a mauve-gray sky, and as he watched it broke apart into rags and filaments and then was absorbed into the abiding haze that hung shroud-like over land raised a few precarious inches above the river that raced towards its delta. Searching in his time-grooved ways for bearings, he rolled his tongue along his upper lip as if tasting the outer edge of the night he would inhabit--and tasted instead the scrim of tooth powder he hadn't quite gotten off the black bristles of his moustache. He raked them with his fingertips, then tasted again. Behind him in the other half of the double cottage he heard the weary rattle of pans from the rearward kitchen as his sister Maureen set about supper for her two girls, and above this there ran a piping complaint from one of them. Up and down Washington Street lamplight began to seep from between the sun-blistered shutters of other cottages, catching edges of the furious decorations of their façades--the carved fans and furbelows of the carpenter's jigsaw, the scrollwork of the lintels, the gingerbread icing of the eaves. Beyond the high, darkening bulk of the Double X Brewery down on Tchoupitoulas he could just make out portions of the steamers from Liverpool and Antwerp, Bordeaux and Genoa, moored at the Stuyvesant Docks whose broad wharves lay below street level, their chafed plankings open to sun and rain, the iron wheels of wagons and carts, and the bright, battered shoes of mules and horses. With feet wide-planted on his porch Muldoon reached into the inside pocket of his suit coat for a cheroot, his hand sliding across the harness of his shoulder holster. He allowed himself six cigars a night and wouldn't smoke half of this first one; more than anything else these preliminary puffs were another of the ways he sought his bearings. Beyond the brief flare of the match he spotted Rob Scanlan trudging up the shallow slope towards home, jacket flung over shoulder and held there by spatulate thumb, and some paces behind Scanlan a small gaggle of men swinging lunch pails with Frank Behan in their midst and talking so loudly Muldoon knew he'd stopped at the dago's down on Washington and Chippewa. Shortly, he knew, there would be fireworks at the Behans', unless Frank made still another stop at the Black Rose on Magazine, in which case the fireworks would be delayed. As the men passed, one raised his eyes to the ruddy-faced fellow who stood smoking on his porch above them and nodded shortly in acknowledgement. Muldoon responded by touching his hat rim, then watched their backs, bent with fatigue, as they plodded through the mud and oyster shells of Washington towards home--wife, kids, supper, the sagging rack of the too-narrow bed that might well be shared with the youngest child. And then tomorrow as he himself came homeward in the morning light he would encounter some of them again, bound out for another day down at the docks, or at the bag factory, the paint plant whose fumes seared your nostrils when you walked past it, the scrap-iron dealer's with the rusty welter of its yard like a manifestation of the lives they lived: random, heavy, sharp-edged with ordinary peril. When they were well up the street and Mrs. Seavoy had silently passed on the far side, bent beneath her bundle of laundry, Muldoon carefully stubbed out the cheroot on the porch railing, swept the ashes down into the tiny flowerbed Maureen kept, and checked the cigar to make certain it was dead out before replacing it in his suit coat pocket. The figures of other workingmen were visible down below the Chippewa corner, but no one was near the cottage now. Muldoon tugged at the skirts of his coat, took a deep inhale, and went carefully down the twelve steps to the street, the left foot leading and then the right one drawing even with it, its toe dropping suddenly, helplessly, until the heel hit and corrected the misstep. When he stood on the street he turned left with an almost military air and limped at a good rate down to the levee on Tchoupitoulas, still leading with that left foot, the right coming along behind, its toe dropping into the mud, the heel hitting, then taking the weight of the stride, the walker's shoulders squared and his head up under his hard-crowned bowler. He passed below the last of the cottages to where the commercial buildings took over, beginning with the long, low stretch of the bag factory where once he'd worked and across from it the dago's at Chippewa, its doors off and the drinkers a dark clot at the bar. Two whiskey-roughened hoots sounded as he waded through the odor of sawdust, spilled beer, and stale urine that lay across that portion of the street like a permanent and pestiferous fog. Then the Double X on his right and behind it, on Tchoupitoulas, Cooper Smith's Stevedoring, opposite which the streetcar stopped. He could hear its rattle before it emerged out of the gathering gloom, swaying along its grooves past Toledano Street and Pleasant on its way to Downtown. When it drew up, he swung aboard with one hand, bringing his right foot deftly up while Martin Whitelaw worked the gears, jamming the car forward. "Mr. Muldoon," Martin Whitelaw said, taking his nickel. "Evening, Martin," Muldoon came back, taking his seat in the sparsely occupied car. At Decatur he changed for the Canal Street line up to Basin where he swung off with the same athletic grace he'd boarded with, disguising for just that moment the old wound he carried. Then the car rattled and swayed on its way out to the cemeteries, leaving him where his work was, where he lived his life. He went over the railroad tracks and passed the long passenger shed that extended for blocks down the Line, then turned on Basin and crossed the invisible barrier separating the District from the rest of the world.Inside it there was a muffled beat like a sullen pulse; there was the winking of a hundred lights, sequins on the tawdry gown of night; and a low moaning like that of a creature alive and trapped and that wanted to pull you into its snaky grasp. It was early, just the first moments of what in here was daybreak, but already there were some stray notes aloft, the first tinkles from the piano professors who played the painted uprights in the whorehouse parlors; some horn toots from the opened doors of the cabarets; the first ping-ping of the cheap .22 rifles the customers fired in Charlie Marcet's shooting gallery; the opening burst of liquor-oiled laughter--backwash of a dirty joke--from Milton Kelly's Terminal Saloon. And beneath these first moments of daybreak in the District, these cock-crows, there was something else, a current of sound lower down than the notes of instruments, more continuous than the bibulous bursts of laughter, heavier than the reports of the rifles and the thud of the bullets hitting the slowly moving train of lead elephants in the shooting gallery. Something that wailed with an irremediable and endless despair and that commenced at the moment when the sun sank behind the oven vaults with their crosses, their crucified Christs, in St. Louis Cemetery Number 2, turning tombs that were by day a leprous white into inky outlines against the last scarlet and brass of the suddenly sunless sky. It was the weedy, rank chorus arising from the violated throats of the colored whores, hundreds of them, singing snatches of the blues from the doorways of the cribs that lined Iberville and Bienville and Conti, all the way to St. Louis Number 2, and all the way down Robertson and Villere, Marais, Liberty, and Franklin to St. Louis Number 1 at the end of the Line. For some reason the white women of the cribs rarely sang, though if the blues were the expression of sadness, Muldoon supposed they too had their reasons to moan. Copyright © 2006 by Frederick Turner All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopy, recording, or any information storage and retrieval system, without permission in writing from the publisher. Requests for permission to make copies of any part of the work should be submitted online at or mailed to the following address: Permissions Department, Harcourt, Inc., 6277 Sea Harbor Drive, Orlando, Florida 32887-6777. Excerpted from Redemption by Howard Fast, Frederick Turner All rights reserved by the original copyright owners. Excerpts are provided for display purposes only and may not be reproduced, reprinted or distributed without the written permission of the publisher.