Last printing: 05/21/02 `;/91' ISBN: 0-2366-102-9772-1 Sidney Sheldon has had a most remarkable career. The New York Times acclaimed his novel. The Naked Face, as ' the best first mystery novel of the year '. At the age of twenty-four Mr Sheldon had three hit musicals playing simultaneously on Broadway. A theatrical motion picture, and television producer-writer-director, Mr Sheldon has been awarded an Oscar for his original screenplay of The Bachelor and the Bobby Soxer, Screen Writers Guild Awards for Annie Get Tour Gun and Easter Parade and a Tony for Broadway show Redhead. He lives in Los Angeles with his wife, actress Jorja Curtright, and their daughter Mary. Books by Sidney Shelton A STRANGER W THE MIRROR THB OTHBK SIDE OF MIDNIGHT THH NAKED FACE A STRANGER IN THE MIRROR
by Sidney Sheldon First published 1976 by Hodder and Stoughton Ltd © Sidney Sheldon 1976 First Indian edition published 1976 by the macmillan company of india ltd under arrangement with Pan Books Ltd, Cavaye Place, London SW10 9PG Reprinted 1981 This book is sold subject to the condition that it shall not, by way of trade or otherwise, be lent, resold, hired out or otherwise circulated without the publisher's prior consent in any form of binding or cover other than that in which it is published and without a similar condition including this condition being imposed on the subsequent purchaser Export of this book is a violation of the Printed by T K Sengupte at Macmillan India Prcu, Madrai 600002. note TO THE reader The art of making others laugh is surely a wondrous gift from the gods. I affectionately dedicate this book to the comedians, the men and women who have that gift and share it with us. And to one of them in particular: my daughter's godfather, Groucho. This is a work of fiction. Except for the names of theatrical personalities, all characters are imaginary. If you would seek to find yourself Look not in a mirror For there is but a shadow there, A stranger... —silenius, Odes to Truth PROLOGUE.
On a Saturday morning in early August in 1969, a series of bizarre and inexplicable events occurred aboard the fifty-five-thousand-ton luxury liner S.S. Bretagne as it was preparing to sail from the Port of New York to Le Havre. Claude Dessard, chief purser of the Bretagne, a capable and meticulous man, ran, as he was fond of saying, a "tight ship". In the -fifteen years Dessard had served aboard the Bretagne, he had never encountered a situation he had not been able to deal with efficiently and discreetly. Considering that the S.S. Bretagne was a French ship, this was high tribute, indeed. However, on this particular summer day it was as though a thousand devils were conspiring against him. It was of small consolation to his sensitive Gallic pride that the intensive investigations conducted afterwards by the American and French branches of Interpol and the steamship line's own security forces failed to turn up a single plausible explanation for the extraordinary happenings of that day. Because of the fame of the persons involved, the story was told in headlines all over the world, but the mystery remained unsolved. As for Claude Dessard, he retired from the Qe. Transatlantique and opened a bistro in Nice, where he never tired of reliving with his patrons that strange, unforgettable August day. It had begun, Dessard recalled, with the delivery of flowers from the President of the United States. One hour before sailing time, an official black limousine bearing government license plates had driven up to Pier 92 on
the lower Hudson River. A man wearing a charcoal-gray suit had...