Tom Follett quits his job as a History professor and moves to an entertainment pier south of Santa Monica, where he sets up a historical exhibit. This move greatly upsets his rich and bossy girlfriend, Dayton Fredrik, who has another future planned out for him. But it provides an opportunity for the pier’s owner and operator, Arnold Gesserman. Tired of battling to keep out gangsters like Sloe Eye Binario, Gesserman wills the pier to Tom and disappears. For the first time in his life, Tom must face real-world issues, including the attention of Lancy, a sexy dancer, and Teana, a restaurant owner and Auschwitz survivor.
One may wonder how a well respected writer like Richard Llewellyn, with How Green Was My Valley (1939) and None but the Lonely Heart (1943) under his belt, managed to come up with such a shambles as A Flame for Doubting Thomas. Problems abound. The plot makes unlikely swerves, and major events are often relayed in second-hand accounts. The title character, present in nearly every scene, is too pompous to be sympathetic. The ancillary characters are so numerous -- the book has about ninety of them -- that they lack not only depth but clear indications of their importance. Worse yet, they often speak in a strange slang, which seems partly Damon Runyan, partly working-class British and partly invention by the author. Finally, readers who finish the book are likely to find the ending unsatisfying. In short, this is a novel that can be skipped.