The Naked Face by sidney sheldon

The Naked Face
The Naked Face is the first novel (1970) written by Sidney Sheldon. It was nominated by the Mystery Writers of America for the Edgar Allan Poe Award for Best First Novel by an American Author.
In 1983 the novel was adapted as a film directed by Bryan Forbes, starring Roger Moore and Rod Steiger.

From the book

At ten minutes before eleven in the morning, the sky exploded into a carnival of white confetti that 
instantly blanketed the city. The soft snow turned  the already frozen streets of Manhattan to grey 
slush and the icy December wind herded the Christmas shoppers towards the comfort of their 
apartments and homes.
On Lexington Avenue the tall, thin man in the yellow rain slicker moved along with the rushing 
Christmas crowd to a rhythm of his own. He was walking rapidly, but it was not with the frantic 
pace of the other pedestrians who were trying to escape the cold. His head was lifted and he 
seemed oblivious to the passers -by who bumped against him. He was f ree after a lifetime of 
purgatory, and he was on his way home to tell Mary that it was finished. The past was going to 
bury its dead and the future was bright and golden. He was thinking how her face would glow 
when he told her the news. As he reached the  corner of Fifty-ninth Street, the traffic light ambered 
its way to red and he stopped with the impatient crowd. A few feet away, a Salvation Army Santa 
Claus stood over a large kettle. The man reached in his pocket for some coins, an offering to the 
gods of fortune. At that instant someone clapped him on the back, a sudden stinging blow that 
rocked his whole body. Some overhearty Christmas drunk trying to be friendly.
Or Bruce Boyd. Bruce, who had never known his own strength and had a childish habit of hur ting 
him physically. But he had not seen Bruce in more than a year. The man started to turn his head 
to see who had hit him, and to his surprise, his knees began to buckle. In slow motion, watching 
himself from a distance, he could see his body hit the sid ewalk. There was a dull pain in his back 
and it began to spread. It became hard to breathe. He was aware of a parade of shoes moving 
past his face as though animated with a life of their own. His cheek began to feel numb from the 
freezing sidewalk He knew  he must not lie there. He opened his mouth to ask someone to help 
him, and a warm, red river began to gush out and flow into the melting snow. He watched in 
dazed fascination as it moved across the sidewalk and ran down into the gutter. The pain was 
worse now, but he didn't mind it so much because he had suddenly remembered his good news. 
He was free. He was going to tell Mary that he was free. He closed his eyes to rest them from the 
blinding whiteness of the sky. The snow began to turn to icy sleet, but h e no longer felt anything.

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