Picks and Pans Review: As Time Goes By: a Novel of Casablanca

updated 11/09/1998 AT 01:00 AM EST

originally published 11/09/1998 AT 01:00 AM EST

by Michael Walsh

A sequel to Casablanca? Unthinkable! Yet Walsh, a former TIME music critic, has dared to imagine what happened to Rick, Ilsa and company after that Lockheed Electra took off into the fog at movie's end.

Here, the cast reassembles for an action-packed, behind-enemy-lines operation spearheaded by underground leader Victor Laszlo. Though the plot makes for exciting melodrama, the film's characters seem misplaced when they leave cozy Rick's Café and come face-to-face with the all too real architect of Hitler's Final Solution. Curiously, the most plausible and engaging parts of the book are flashbacks to Rick's tough-guy past in New York City, wherein we learn why he left America. Walsh earnestly evokes the film's grand themes of romance and sacrifice, but the effect is forced. "I'm no good at being noble," Rick said to Ilsa in the original movie. Neither, unfortunately, is this book. (Warner, $25)

Bottom Line: Don't play it again, Sam

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