Email this review


 Ultra-busy exposÇ 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 intentionto contrast the lure of life on the wild side with the rewards of long-term marriagebut this inquiry gets drowned out by the cacophonous clanks of unoiled plot machinery. (First printing of 30,000; Literary Guild alternate selection)

Pub Date: July 17th, 1995
ISBN: 0-553-09690-7
Page count: 336pp
Publisher: Bantam
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1st, 1995