Flashy but flawed psychothriller: the fiction debut of accomplished screenwriter Mayersberg (Eureka, 1982; the Man Who Fell to Earth, 1976, etc.). From the crisp opening scene—which finds Hollywood agent Mason Elliott spying in shocked fascination on a beautiful brunet dragging an apparent corpse through the corridor of their Albuquerque hotel—it's clear that Mayersberg is expert at cinematic storytelling (the publisher plans to market the novel with a ``Cast the Movie'' contest). And so the insistently noir narration by Mason unreels like Fatal Attraction squared as the agent, haunted by the eerie, somehow titillating scene he's witnessed, returns to his L.A. office only to have his secretary quit on him and her temp-replacement turn out to be—the brunet, calling herself Ursula Baxter. Intrigued, Mason pretends not to know Ursula and tumbles into an X-rated affair that gets only hotter when he learns that she's an ex-porn queen. But as Ursula methodically takes over his business as well as personal life, manipulating his clients, longtime girlfriend, and mom, Mason begins to suspect that he's playing with fire...and the tantalizing narrative abruptly and awkwardly switches to Ursula's viewpoint for a drawn-out and generally redundant recap of the tale already told, focusing on her insane erotic obsession for this ``beautiful'' man she's been stalking for months. By the time the narrative reins return to Mason, Ursula has committed murder for him and with him- -but the plot thrills seem contrived, and the inevitable conclusion in the desert mountains—though, again, cinematic—seems mere noir convention. Structurally riven by the multiple voices (used to far more chilling effect in, for example, Anthony Mancini's Menage, 1989) but erotically charged and seductively exciting in parts—and no doubt the film will steam up screens across the country.
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