Next to the incomparable Mrs. Pollifax, Dorothy Gilman's best-loved character is the mysterious Madame Karitska, who is blessed with a powerful gift of clairvoyance that attracts to her a stream of men and women craving help with their misfortunes, desperate to know what the future holds. . . .
When a brilliant young violinist dies in a horrific accident, Madame Karitska has only to hold the victim's instrument in her hands to perceive the shocking truth. But when an insecure wife asks whether her husband will abandon her to join a sinister cult, Madame Karitska-as wise as she is lovely-chooses not to reveal all that she foresees. And when an attach� case is suddenly dropped into her lap by a man fleeing a crowded subway, she knows it's time to consult her good friend Detective-Lieutenant Pruden.
A nine-year-old accused of murder, a man dying a slow death by witchcraft- for the hunted and the haunted, Madame Karitska's shabby downtown apartment becomes a haven, where brilliant patterns of violence, greed, passion, and strange obsessions mix and disintegrate with stunning, kaleidoscopic beauty.
Once again Dorothy Gilman exercises her own uncanny power to render readers spellbound.
Fans of Gilman's Mrs. Pollifax series will welcome this tantalizing sequel to The Clairvoyant Countess (1975), whose psychic heroine is adept at psychometry, "the faculty of divining knowledge about an object or a person connected with it through contact with the object." Here Madame Karitska and her friend on the Trafton police force, Detective Lieutenant Pruden, share a series of adventures in which they confront the heartless killer of a talented young violinist, save a deaf-mute child from the accusations of her supposed benefactress, help a spoiled heiress find a purpose in life and assist a timid artist to gain confidence and fame. A travel writer suffering from a mysterious illness, a beautiful little boy who can't speak and, finally, Roger Gillespie, an intelligence officer on the trail of a rogue genius who plans doomsday from his headquarters at an electronics company in Maine all bring their pains and problems to Madame Karitska's shabby brownstone, where they find not only solace and solutions but frequently soul mates among her other clients. One wonders if the author herself is psychic, for the mad scientist's plan to bring the world to a halt bears an uncanny resemblance to the unfolding terror of the past few months. Hopefully, Gilman won't wait another quarter century before she brings back Madame Karitska, if nothing else to explain the sudden, rather stingy ending of this fascinating, kaleidoscopic potpourri.
Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information, Inc.
-- PUBLISHERS WEEKLY.
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December 01, 2003
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Excerpt from Kaleidoscope by Dorothy Gilman
Madame Karitska, leaving the shabby brownstone on Eighth Street, gave only a cursory glance at the sign in the first-floor window that read madame karitska, readings. It was ironic, she thought as she stepped into the bright noon sunshine, how a talent that had earned her whippings as a child, and for which she had never before accepted money, had led her so firmly to this street a year ago, and to this brownstone, to place the sign in the window that at last admitted her gift of clairvoyance.
On the other hand, her life had always been filled with surprises, and among them, here in Trafton, was her blossoming friendship with Detective Lieutenant Pruden, whose suspicions and skepticism had long since been obliterated by the help she'd been able to offer him in his work. The shoddiness of the neighborhood neither bothered nor depressed her; after all, she had known poverty in Kabul, and wealth in Antwerp, and poverty again in America, and in spite of Eighth Street's flirting with decay it no longer seemed to deter her clients, which amused her. She was becoming known.
At the moment, however, she was between appointments and free to venture uptown for a few purchases, and she was in no hurry; she walked slowly, drinking in the sounds and colors along the way as if they were intoxicating, as for her they were. Reaching Tenth Street she saw that the warmth of the sun had brought Sreja Zagredi out of his secondhand furniture store to sit in the sun, and she greeted him cordially.
His eyes brightened. "Ah, Madame Karitska, you have the step of a young girl!"
"And you the heart of a brigand," she told him. "How is my rug today?"
"Still here," he told her, pointing to it displayed in the window. "I have a very good offer for it the other day, from a man uptown who appreciates the finest of old rugs, I assure you."
"Nonsense," said Madame Karitska crisply, "it's a poor copy of an Oriental rug, and shabby as well."
"Shabby! A good rug ages like wine," he told her indignantly. "You want garish colors, God forbid? A hundred dollars is still my price, but only for you."
Madame Karitska smiled. "The colors were garish," she pointed out amiably, "but you've had it hanging in the sun all winter, spring and summer to fade it. My offer remains eighty-five dollars."
"Eighty-five!" He pulled at his considerable hair in anguish. "What a fool you make of me to tell this stranger from uptown I save it for a friend! With five children to feed you speak starvation to me, Madame Karitska."
She observed him critically. "Scarcely starving. I think you could lose at least twenty pounds, Mr. Zagredi, if you cut down on the br�nz?a and the raki."
"This is a rug worth at least one hundred fifty uptown!"
Madame Karitska shrugged. "Then take it uptown, Mr. Zagredi."
He blew through his mustache and eyed her shrewdly. "For you I have already come down to one hundred."
"And for you I have already gone up to eighty-five," she reminded him.
They eyed each other appreciatively, and he laughed. "There is no one like you anymore, Madame Karitska; you know how to haggle like in the old country and it does my heart good. Like the knife--sharp!"
"Very sharp, yes," she told him cheerfully. "In the meantime it is good to see you, and say hello to your wife for me, Mr. Zagredi."
"Come for a dinner of m?am?alig?a," he called after her. "Come soon--you are the only one who can put sense into my son's head about school."
"I will," she promised, smiling, and they parted with perfect understanding, their minds pleasantly exercised and soothed by the exchange.
Reaching the subway station at Eleventh Street she paid her fare and was pleased to find a seat available. In the moment before the doors slammed shut, two men entered the car, one of them young, with a hard, suntanned face that almost matched the color of his trench coat, and who took a seat some distance away. The other, older man wore a dark, somewhat shabby suit and carried a small attach� case, and he sat down opposite her; glancing at him she gave a start, for she recognized him. Leaning forward she was about to call across the aisle to him when he lifted his head and looked directly at her and then through her, with not a trace of expression on his face.
At once Madame Karitska covered her movement by leaning down and retying a shoelace. When she straightened again she studied the man briefly and glanced away, but she was alert now, and thoughtful.
The train stopped at the next station and the man opposite her half rose, as if to leave, and then sank back. When he did this Madame Karitska noticed that farther down the car the man in the trench coat also made a move to leave and then aborted it. Seeing this she returned her glance to the impassive face across the aisle, and this time he met her gaze, and without expression they gazed at each other for a long moment.