JOURNEY.Patricia MacLachlen.Delacorte.83 pages...


October 20, 1991|By JUDITH B. ROSENFELD WITNESS FOR THE DEFENSE. Elizabeth Loftus and Katherine Ketcham. St. Martin's. 288 pages. $19.95.


Patricia MacLachlen.


83 pages. $33.50;

children of all ages.

When his mother abandons his sister and him at their grandparents' home, 11-year-old Journey believes it is his own fault -- he has not been good enough, not perfect. His grandfather, who wants him to discover for himself the meaning of love and responsibility, begins to take and develop photos of the family to reveal the truth about the boy and his parents. His grandfather, using photography to work out his own frustration at his daughter's departure, knows that Journey needs the proof that he is not to blame for his mother's leaving.

This may sound like an overwhelmingly sorrowful story, but Ms. MacLachlen -- author of the Newbery Medal book "Sarah Plain and Tall" -- turns the sorrow to joy. As the adults strive to understand what has happened, they help Journey accept himself and realize the love his grandparents offer him unconditionally. The moment when this happens is as exciting as any high adventure could provide. The device of a camera as a seeing eye will intrigue young readers and may send many of them to family picture albums to learn about themselves and their parents in earlier days,

A slim book, "Journey" will be read best by parents and their children together because they will have much to discuss.

Can people's memories be altered? Can they remember things that never happened? Sure, says Elizabeth Lofton, a psychologist whose interest is more than academic. She also serves as an expert witness in trials in which eyewitness identification is a major factor in the prosecution.

After reading this account of some of the cases she took part in (including that of Ted Bundy) and those she almost did (including John Demjanjuk), and seeing how multiple eyewitnesses turned out to be wrong, one might never trust them again.

She shows how police and other authority figures can deliberately or inadvertently put ideas into witnesses' heads and how people can convince themselves of things that never were.

Not only do innocent people go to jail because of honest, but wrong, witnesses, but some people are put to death -- a good reason, Dr. Lofton points out, for doing away with the death penalty.



Gerald Seymour.


336 pages. $20.

Like few other writers in the espionage genre, Gerald Seymour writes novels that have an authenticity that puts him in the ranks of such writers as John le Carre and Eric Ambler. In "Condition Black," Mr. Seymour has tackled a particularly chilling theme: Saddam Hussein"s attempts at acquiring a nuclear arsenal. As he usually does, Mr. Seymour tells the story using several plots that converge at novel's end.

British-born Colin Oliver Louis Tuck -- known as Colt -- is Hussein's chief assassin. When he dispatches an Iraqi dissident in Greece, he also inadvertently kills an American CIA agent. The agent was a lifelong friend of FBI investigator Bill Erlich, who swears revenge and begins to stalk the killer. Colt's next assignment is to get Frederick Bissett, a bitter British nuclear scientist, to defect to Iraq. As Erlich's investigation proceeds, he uncovers the plot. His pleas about the looming threat are shrugged off by British and U.S. officials. Erlich takes matters into his own hands.

Unlike so many thrillers on the market, "Condition Black" is a complex thriller in which human beings take center stage instead of technology. It's a believable, compelling and sinister novel.


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