SILVER LININGS by Charles Cohen


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Here, Cohen (Daddy, 1986; Falling Out, 1981) turns his rollicking satiric eye on murder, misbehavior, and other forms of tastelessness in Cliffside, a rich Jewish suburb of Chicago. Narrator Nicky Silver, a thoroughly likable hypochondriac who has given up lawyering to write poems and stay home with five-year-old Matthew while wife Alice pursues her career as a C.P.A., discovers the strangled corpse of Carol Frank, co-owner of Cliffside's trendiest fashion shop. Beth Schwartz, as the victim's archenemy and business partner, is the prime suspect; but when she turns up dead, too, suspicion falls on some of Nicky's favorite people: deli owner Max Platt; best friend Kay Oken (who's plagued with agoraphobia and with a husband who keeps building extra rooms onto the house); even Mice, the almost perfect (except for her jealousy of Kay) wife. With some help from Carmine Orini (who plays at having mob connections to make up for the tedium of stacking canned goods in the supermarket), Nicky finds out who really done it. Along the way, he stumbles through homes equipped with ""whatever's electronically fashionable,"" attends two wacky funerals (Carol is eulogized for her exquisite sense of color; Beth's funeral oration is delivered by her plastic surgeon); survives the world's glitziest Christmas extravaganza plus a celebration of Humanity Day with his socially progressive mother. (Little Matthew, warned to be nice no matter what his gift turns out to be, manages to say, ""Thank you, Gram. It's a real nice. . . dress""). More than a comic murder mystery, Cohen's third is a novel about suburbia and money, sex, love, and friendship, in which stereotypes are presented and then sent up with blithe affection. Cohen's targets may be easy, but he keeps the laughs coming and manages to be wise and tender in between the zingers. Fast-paced and funny, a deft and entertaining spree.

Pub Date: April 19th, 1988
Publisher: Dutton