Review

Montaro Caine

by Sidney Poitier

A scientist encounters a young crippled boy who hands him a gift for the son he didn’t mention. Before the scientist can deliver the gift, he is killed in a plane crash. Two women, dying of terminal cancer, are healed by a mysterious man living alone on an island. A baby is born with a strange coin in her hand. The attending doctor and nurse take the coin and never tell the child’s parents. Decades later, all those lives, plus those of several powerful men and women, a couple of ambitious crooks and a mathematical genius collide. MONTARO CAINE is a fantastical novel, plotted as a tale of intrigue, with a touch of sci-fi and a bit of mysticism, by none other than acclaimed actor Sidney Poitier.

"[T]he novel is original and nicely blends some disparate genres, throwing in a bit of science and a healthy dose of philosophy. Overall, MONTARO CAINE is a smart, thoughtful and optimistic book."

Montaro Caine lost his father to a plane crash when he was just eight years old. But cared for by his mother and guided by his grandfather, he grew up to be a successful scientist and the CEO of an important corporation. Right at a moment of crisis, when his company and his leadership of it are in jeopardy, and his teenage daughter in serious trouble, a coin that Caine analyzed in college resurfaces. It was a coin he was unlikely to ever forget, brought in to the lab with no background information, decorated with a celestial image and composed of several unknown elements that acted in entirely surprising ways. Before the coin could be studied in more detail, the representatives of the owners took it back.

When two different people bring a coin for Caine to look at, he knows right away that it is not the same coin, though it’s very similar. With the realization that there are two coins in existence and with their power and value beginning to be understood, a diverse group of players are drawn together to try to steal, sell, buy, trade, own, or ultimately control the coins and whatever amazing possibilities they represent. The coins create a tangled web of figures: doctors and nurses, CEOs and lawyers, scientists and art collectors, crooks and others, as well as Montaro Caine, who finds himself at the center of the mystery.

What are the coins, and what potential do they hold? It seems they are the artifacts of a distant civilization, one that outlived its star and traveled space to find a new home. Here on earth, they are able to avoid destruction and move on their own, but more importantly they can evoke a goodness and morality in naturally compassionate people. Poitier’s characters draw on inner strength and acquired wisdom to decide the fate of the coins (which actually may have been deciding their fates all along). The battle for control over the coins makes for a fun read; the wheelings and dealings of those who try to buy them and the background stories of those characters are interesting. The mystical aspects of the story were promising but occasionally, especially at the end, they got bogged down in a preachy sentimentality. Plus, the lack of a satisfying resolution to several plot lines was disappointing.

Poitier is a first-time fiction writer (he has previously published three autobiographical works), and sometimes it shows. However, the novel is original and nicely blends some disparate genres, throwing in a bit of science and a healthy dose of philosophy. Overall, MONTARO CAINE is a smart, thoughtful and optimistic book.

Reviewed by Sarah Rachel Egelman on May 10, 2013

Montaro Caine
by Sidney Poitier