When it comes to marketing his novels globally, Sidney Sheldon is an officially certified champ. The 1999 Guinness Book of Records credits him as the world's most translated novelist (51 languages, more than 180 countries).
His popularity is easy to understand.
Sheldon excels in creating attention-getting plots with clever twists and turns; he writes simply, in basic English, never going too deeply into psychology or technology; and his glamorous characters often travel to or have connections with many countries.
His story also unravels very fast so fast, in fact, that sometimes it reads like the extended plot for a movie. Given his background, it is hardly surprising. Winner of an Oscar and a Tony, Sheldon has a long and distinguished career in show business.
His latest novel, "The Sky Is Falling" (Morrow, 368 pages, $26), is vintage Sheldon with all the familiar earmarks.
The protagonist is young and beautiful (what else?) TV anchor Dana Evans. She lives in Washington, D.C., with Kemal, an orphan boy missing an arm. She brought him home from Sarajevo, where she covered the war.
One day, Gary Winthrop, "America's Prince Charming," is murdered at home during a robbery. He is the fifth and last of a prominent family whose members have died violently during the past year. It's too much to be coincidence, Dana decides.
Who's killing the Winthrops? Who hates them so much, and why?
She starts looking into the life of the family's patriarch, Taylor Winthrop, whose last position was ambassador to Russia. She interviews various people, but everyone has nothing but high praise for him. No one believes he had any enemies.
But, like all Sheldon heroines, Dana is tenacious. As her inquiries take her to Brussels, Rome, Paris, Dusseldorf and Moscow, she finds her life and Kemal's threatened by the force behind those murders.
Sheldon, who won an Edgar Allan Poe award from the Mystery Writers of America, does not try to create literature. He wants only to entertain, and he is an unparalleled master at what he does.