Unlikely coincidence, impossible characterization, and gratuitous kinkiness run rampant through this first novel, smothering what might have been a diverting bit of light romance-intrigue. College instructor Lida, a tough 35 and lasciviously liberated, takes time out from her desperate one-night stands to send a fan letter to ""Duvivier,"" the pseudonymous author of the macho thrillers she thrives on. She even does some sleuthing and discovers Duvivier's real name--Prof. Ronald Wendolyn. And when Duvivier/Wendolyn pays her a call while visiting America (he lives abroad), she overlooks his odd questions (""Have you ever made love with an animal?"") and makes the most of him (""'Mmm,' she said, letting his pubic hair tickle her cheek, her nose. 'Come in my hair, come on my eyelids, come in my mouth.'"") Happy Lida. But, as we learn through flashbacks--and, very coincidentally, through a story being told to Lida's best friend, divorced Diana--Wendolyn has a dark secret: he killed a coed years ago at his New England campus (or at least thinks he did) and then faked his own death. To maintain suspense and contrive a happy ending, Banks has to make Wendolyn into three or four different kinds of schizo--a hopeless non-character to go along with unlikable, grating Lida. Still, some easygoing comic dialogue and a sure way with contemporary atmosphere hint that Banks could be charming if she weren't trying so hard to be scary and raunchy.