Portrait in Time: Dr. Charles Schneider
Within a lifetime we all strive to be recognized and appreciated for who were are and the person we want everyone to admire. Sometimes these desires can get in the way of what is truly important and can backfire when greed, jealousy and power come into play. What would happen if you were dramatically transported into another time period because your body carries a certain mutation that allows you to time travel? What would happen if you were once a famous model who posed for many artists and your paintings were hanging in a museum for all to admire? What would happen if you wound up on the floor of that museum unclothed with your lover who was also transported from another time period but wound up dead?
What happens when a young girl winds up in the present and really belongs in the past in another century? Imagine the reasoning as we listen to Dr. John Noland explain the phenomenon of Time traveling or as he calls it Time Shells. Within the pages of Chapter six the author shares the research and the information on Time Shells. How the procedure works and how Dr. Noland sent mice back and forth between time periods is quite compelling and interesting. Mice and how they produce or don’t produce Chronotonin and create a Virtual Hole between Time Shells is imperative to why and how Time Travel happens. If they do not have an “Electromagnetic shield around them, in contrast to our mutant rodents they will die instantly.”
Nicole Bruante is our guest from another time period and her pimp or lover for a night Guy the male who died or got crushed because he did not have the electromagnetic shield and the right amount of Chronontonin. Interestingly enough she unconscious and when awakens takes time before realizing her surroundings, the dead man next to her and the fact that she has to get out of the room in the museum where is. Listening for the police and realizing that someone might come around the guard that finds the man is stunned, calls for help and Nicole fortunately finds her way into one of the offices and this is where the story heats up.
Leaving the office and finding information that might lead her to someone she thinks might help Nicole wanders the streets only to fall prey to some young guys. But, she is smart and resourceful and winds up at the doorstep of the woman who is the assistant director of Musee de Orsay and who is having an affair with the museum’s executive director. Needless to say the shock on Susanne Bruante’s face when she comes face to face with someone she assumes to be her younger sister. Enter Henri Bruante and art restorer and her uncle whose resources are countless and who is able to unravel much of the mystery behind Nicole.
However, Inspector Michele Crossier of the Police Judiciare is hot on the trail of the killer she thinks and hopes to make a name for herself by winning her first homicide case. Questions are asked, videotapes are accessed and conclusions are drawn that Susanne the face in the video is the killer. Questioning her in the middle of the night the answers come but the result is surprising. Just how is Susanne going to get out of this mess and how will Nicole’s appearance, DNA and background help increase her prestige in the art world?
Why is it that Henri before he even met Nicole felt something for her and wanted to help find a way to understand who she really is and how she came to be a part of their lives? Susanne is selfish, self-absorbed and always plays an angle that will benefit her and wanting to rid herself of Nicole she enlists the help of an old lover who just happens to be Dr. John Noland. Thinking she could rekindle what they had 20 years ago and flaunt herself at him using whatever she could to win his attention and help she makes a phone call that would change it all but not in the way readers might expect.
Susanne is smart and thinks she will be able to take control with the help of her lover who vouches for her with the police who are keeping a strong eye on her and Henri. Standing at a podium and hoping to direct everyone’s attention to what she was going to share the audience was sparse and the evidence not quite believable as she explains the exhibits that they are viewing the history behind them and the fact that Courbet’s model in the pictures was Nicole. Hiding the fact that the story begins with a letter sent by Nicole to Courbet. Message sent and out of her hands and hoping that he financial problems would be solved and he had his own, and a handful of paintings on her wall she proceeded to meet her lover for the night. But, the end result is not what she expected and might explain how she wound up in the present.
With the Chief of her back Crossier hoped to solve the case, find the killer and the murder weapon but the scene was bare. Using her intuition she learned about a size-adjustable, high pressure submersion tank used to remove rust and corrosion from sculptures and of course used by Henri. Thinking that the victim was stuffed in this tank and explaining the process on pages 88- 90 the reader understands the procedures being followed and why she felt that Susanne needed further surveillance.
Checking out the paintings in the museum the model appears to look like Nicole but Susanne did not want to concede that it was. The rationalization and the handwriting expects at the Archives Nationales confirmed it was the letter Henri found on the back of a canvas and that it was real. Degas was the recipient of the written request and hid the letter there. Every one of the nude paintings were of Nicole and her father Edmond made sure that some of her hair was filtered into everyone. This would help identifying her even further. Susanne did not like being left behind and the artist who wanted to put a real part of himself into the painting and giving it some life. But, the artist was not Degas who claimed they were his but Courbet who gave Degas permission to claim them. The explanation and reasoning which relates back to Nicole, her past, her son and what really might have happened to her is explained on pages 100- 106.
With John Noland in her corner Susanne thinks she has it all under control and hopes that he will find a way to rid her world of Nicole except the connection between them is stronger than the current to send her back. “Will Nicole be able to make it back through the Virtual Hole? Will she get crushed as her lover did? Henri did not want her hurt and would spend as much time as he could making sure she would not be harmed as would John. But, Susanne could care less and when the type of analysis was revealed she wanted her DNA analyzed too even though it did not have any bearing on the end result. But, Nicole is what he called a homozygote and she a heterozygote making them different. The definition is on page 223 and would set in motion a plan that just might backfire on Susanne. Just what happens when they give Nicole the same drink that would send her back and make her fall asleep? In the gallery under The Origin of the World Painting while the entire group watched. Two looked upset and one joyous but the end result will astound readers as Susanne positions herself in a way that might change things drastically. What is the Common Object and how would the Virtual Hole be opened? An ending that is right out of a science fiction movie and an author that creates intrigue, suspense and a twist that you will never see coming. Just what Susanne does at the last minute and what the final outcome is and where everyone winds up is the brilliant work of author Charles Schneider and his creative and unique ending. What happens to Nicole? What about John’s feelings for her? What does Susanne decide to do? What is next for all of these characters as the author has penned a sequel that I will be reading shortly. What happens to the case the Crossier thinks she has put together? Will she make a name for herself or will she fall prey to what Susanne claims are her reasons for her innocence and the events that happened? Just what happens that might get the Inspector off the trail or will she look further and the author reveals what is next in Valle of Years !
Fran Lewis: Just Reviews/MJ Magazine