Readers of the delicious A Likely Story (1984) know that the versatile Westlake has a robust taste for publishing-world...



Readers of the delicious A Likely Story (1984) know that the versatile Westlake has a robust taste for publishing-world satire. So not everyone will be surprised that this new novel puts suspense on the back-burner (a mini-murder-mystery subplot) and concentrates instead on silly doings, some funnier than others, behind the scenes at the Weekly Galaxy--""a garish supermarket tabloid full of TV stars and creatures from outer space."" Nice, smart Sara Joslyn, near fresh out of journalism school, is the newest overpaid reporter on the Galaxy's staff at the Florida headquarters, a four-story complex ""in the middle of nothing."" Though not exactly naive, she's a bit taken aback by the Galaxy set-up: panicky editors--like handsome, acerbic Jack Ingersoll--who must come up with 30 story ideas (e.g., ""Does sex cure gallstones?"") a week; reporters who'll impersonate anyone to elicit usable quotes over the phone; a publisher obsessed with reclusive TV star John Michael Mercer. And since no one's interested in Sara's discovery of a corpse in a car (""On what series is he a regular?"" Jack scornfully asks), she pretty much forgets about it and concentrates on her Galaxy assignments. First she journeys to Indiana to stage a nursing-home birthday bash for 100-year-old twins--and gamely fakes it when one of the oldsters inconveniently dies. Then the prime focus switches to the upcoming, top-secret wedding of TV-idol Mercer: identifying the bride; locating the nuptials (on Martha's Vineyard); bribing the minister; invading in force; donning assorted disguises to get the pictures. Meanwhile, there's a routine hate/love affair for Sara and Jack--while they expose the traitor in their midst (a Trend magazine undercover-woman). And when the mayhem escalates--a missing Galaxy employee, near-fatal assaults on Sara and Jack--they really do have to solve that murder: there's a neat denouement coinciding with the Galaxy's desperate quest to get coffin photos of newly dead, Presley-like legend Johnny Crawfish. Not for action or mystery fans, then: a likable blend of farce and satire, only occasionally inspired but never less than smile-worthy.

Pub Date: May 17, 1988


Page Count: -

Publisher: Mysterious Press--dist. by Ballantine

Review Posted Online: N/A

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 1988

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