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Another dull, didactic novel from Wilson propounding his psychology of the human will. Two decades ago, Wilson took the trouble to wrap his preaching about the untapped powers of the human mind in exciting, inventive narratives (Ritual in the Dark, The Philosopher's Stone, The Glass Cage). Perhaps, after 53 books, he's simply lost interest; in any case, the frayed string of implausible episodes that bind this plot together will tug at the attention of only die-hard Wilson fans. Dr. Charles Peruzzi, a general practitioner in London, invents a new technique which he calls ""personality surgery,"" described as ""the most exciting discovery in psychology since Freud."" Peruzzi believes that our psychological problems come from not knowing how others perceive us; his solution is to use videotape as a ""mirror in which you can show people their own personalities."" By tampering with the tape, he learns to adjust his patient's expressions and thus produce a new screen personality which the patient can adopt as his own. This amusing idea--played with a strict poker-face--allows Peruzzi to help a promiscuous teen-ager, a confused young chess genius, and a depressed astronaut find new purpose in life. In a disjointed last chapter, ""personality surgery"" also enables Peruzzi to crack the case of the ""Seattle Strangler."" Wilson demonstrates once again that a heavy shrink-wrap of polemic will kill a story, every time.

Pub Date: Aug. 4th, 1986
Publisher: Mercury--dist. by Kampmann (9 East 40 St., New York, NY 10016)