One hears not voices in Voices (by the author of The Captain, 1982), but echoes--of dozens of other drearily predictable...



One hears not voices in Voices (by the author of The Captain, 1982), but echoes--of dozens of other drearily predictable thrillers containing the same tired ingredients: a telephone, a homicidal maniac, and a frightened woman. Lynn Shepard is 33, divorced, and lives in a suburb of Baltimore with her 12-year-old daughter, Rachel. Laid off from her job with a chemical company, too old and/or overqualified for anything else, she secretly takes a job working for Phone Friend, a telephone service which caters to the sexual fantasies of lonely men. Enter Leon Owens, the vessel of rage: his wife has left him, taking the kid, he has a whining mother, women edge away from him in singles bars, he's a nurse, so, ya know, some jerks think . . . But mainly he's impotent. The only way he can get it up is by calling Phone Friend and talking to Lynn, whose ""working"" name is Dawn: ""Dawn?"" ""Yes, sweetheart?"" ""I've--I've just taken it out."" ""Is it big? Big and hard?"" ""Yes. It's so big. . ."" Naturally, he falls in love with her, and it's at this point that readers can put themselves on cruise control. When Lynn refuses to meet him (she's quitting anyway, because her daughter--""Oh, gross me out!""--has found out where she works), Leon breaks into Phone Friend, discovers her real name and address, and holds Rachel hostage. Lynn rushes through the barricades, saves the girl, and Leon is killed by the police. Author Shubin fails to make any of this suspenseful or compelling. Lynn isn't a real character, just a victim, an updated version of a lurid '50s paperback cover whose trendy status as a single parent is supposed to confer on her a kind of quiet, worried intelligence, but doesn't. And Leon is the Everyman of weirdos--his inchoate fury harbors the huddled masses of countless fictional madmen yearning to be freed into better novels. The reader can call the shots in Voices but not, sadly, shoot the author, who does have some talent, and should've known better.

Pub Date: Oct. 15, 1985


Page Count: -

Publisher: Stein & Day

Review Posted Online: N/A

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 1985