Hiding behind the ostentatious vulgarity and outlandish plotting of this foul book is the fact that newcomer Davenport (this is her first hard-cover outing) is a writer with talent--for crackling dialogue, for succinct and cynically witty description. Sadly, those gifts are pretty much beside the point when the plot (ludicrously dated in light of recent headlines) goes like this: the Shah of Iran is planning to murder the U.S. President; the Empress of Iran is planning to murder the Shah (she succeeds); a press baron named McClintock (a.k.a. Rupert Murdoch) is fronting for the Shah in buying up newspapers; and his arch-rival, a nymphomaniacal N.Y. press baroness, murders her stepson to keep control of her paper. Unfortunately, beauteous Catherine Menlo knows all these secrets (her murdered husband was a freelance room-bugger who bequeathed her his tapes) and is being hunted by various assassins--who would succeed if not for Catherine's new love and traveling companion, handsome psychiatrist Christian Winters. And so on. . . with lots of time out for the press baroness' varied, violent, drug-enhanced sexual excursions. Ugly stuff, but those who fancy this territory may as well tour it under Davenport's relatively stylish direction. We'll hope, however, that next time she'll bring her story down to earth and up from the muck to find a format that might show off her talent rather than bury it.