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After the aggressively hip Your Day in the Barrel and the frenetically cutesy The Paris Drop, Furst seems to be settling down just a bit; and this new case for all-purpose courier Roger Levin, though about a third too long and sometimes sophomoric, is more consistently amusing than Levin's previous doings. This time Levin is hired by a lawyer friend to deliver $500,000 to a stranger at Miami's Orange Bowl Stadium. And though the delivery goes okay, the stranger is then promptly murdered (the money stolen) before Levin's eyes. So, back in N.Y., Levin demands to know what's going on--and he learns that the $500,000 was, in effect, a ransom for the release of young, crazy, missing heiress Fiona De Scodellaire: in exchange for the dough, her latest cult/guru was supposed to kick her out and send her home. But now that scheme has fallen through, and Levin is hired to find the heiress and the cult's hideout. He sleuths around, traces the cult to the isle of St. Maarten, locates pudgy Fiona (who immediately lusts for Levin), and uses the sex hookup to lure Fiona home. Then, however, a miserable, Levin-less Fiona is lured back to the isle by her Jim-Jones-y guru (for assorted kinky rituals)--and finally there's a lethal showdown between Levin and the guru. Again, Furst has problems with his mix of styles: when he shifts from hardboiled comedy and sex-farce to more emotional stuff (Levin's love life, the death of his chum), the effect is lame. And the thin plot here is self-indulgently stretched out--with the guru's verbose journal, with Levin's fantasies, etc. But it's reasonably entertaining overall--with enough truly stylish and funny moments to promise better things ahead if Furst can continue to get his spunky talent under control.

Pub Date: Sept. 1st, 1981
Publisher: Delacorte