A dark scramble for love, show-biz success, and sanity in contemporary Manhattan: Segal's debut novel is not always compelling, but the sex and suspense add up to readable if lightweight entertainment. Art Glenn is the proverbial talented piano-man who ought to be somewhere better than Jack's Cafe-Bar on the Upper West Side. Besides his bar gigs, he plays for cruises and society events. Art also drinks too much, goes in for casual (and now "safe") sex while often seething with violent frustration and rage. He falls hard, however, for the lovely Margo Magill, who has given up acting to devote herself to social work. Their affair is passionate and graphic, but Margo soon starts to back out, nervous about Art's dark side and still skittish after her emotionally wrenching marriage. Enter complication in the form of troubled waif and would-be model Susan—who fixes her interest on Art as she stands precariously on the brink of insanity and homelessness. Their entanglement leads to violence, Art's temporary escape to the Caribbean, and final disaster. In spite of a hip, slick surface, the novel doesn't always move: lots of background information is given in narrative summary; material is developed, then dropped. as When pages are devoted to Art's purchase—and subsequent loss (at a crime scene)—of a satin teddy that is then simply forgotten and never becomes a clue. Up-to-the-minute Manhattan: minor but an ironic, enjoyable read.
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