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Ultra-busy expos‚ of lurid goings-on in suburbia, from the author of Blind Prophet (1983), as well as several paperback suspense novels. When Jack Murphy takes a fatal dive into his drained Long Island swimming pool, Phillie Liebowitz, his screenwriting partner, doesn't believe it was a suicide. (After all, womanizing Jack had just had hair implants.) So Phillie does some detective work. He raids Jack's computer and finds musings like ""Sex dominates my life."" He also lunches with racy Judy, one of Jack's former lovers, who produces more heavy-breathing scribblings, these detailing Jack's passionate attachment to an S&M ""family."" But then Judy is brutally murdered, and Phillie's a prime suspect. Dogged in his effort to get inside Jack's life, Phillie goes to Manhattan's Whips and Chains club and spends a night of bliss whipping a pert paid escort named Cee, who knew Jack. Cee gives Phillie clues that help him discover the nefarious plot that drove his partner to suicide. After a Madison Square Garden showdown in which Phillie runs over some second-string bad guys with a Zamboni, he limps home to Long Island to discover that the real villain is holding his family hostage. More than a simple whodunit, Davis's first attempt at noncategory fiction is a tawdry field-day of would-be-titillating mayhem. Sensationalist embellishments and subplots include a night out with a benevolent biker gang, multiple attacks on Phillie's life, a videotape with a deadly secret, a false HIV diagnosis, a multimillion-dollar will with anti-suicide provisions, Phillie's constant agonizing over his troubled relationship with his unfaithful wife, and a 15-minute session with a psychiatrist in which our hero gets to the roots of middle-aged angst. Davis actually has an earnest intention--to contrast the lure of life on the wild side with the rewards of long-term marriage--but this inquiry gets drowned out by the cacophonous clanks of unoiled plot machinery.

Pub Date: July 17th, 1995
Page count: 336pp
Publisher: Bantam