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 Screenwriter Hammond (Sweet Lies, 1979) churns out a slick, sinister sex-cum-suspenser about a gifted, stylishly enervated chameleon's trick of haunting his clients, his lovers, and himself with secrets from the past. The Impersonator, whose name rather anticlimactically turns out to be Barrett Rossignol, first surfaces in New York's Touch Me Club, doing an impersonation of glamorous drowned performance-artist Theo Buckley that captivates her widower, Robert Elias de Pe§a (``author of two slim but popular books of philosophy for the layman''), and arouses the all-too-justified suspicions of Robert's second wife, Jane Donovan, who comes home early one day to find besotted Robert in bed with the Impersonator. Two years later, unwitting Jane herself is living with the Impersonator, who's managed to insinuate himself self- protectively into her life. Ironic, huh? Meantime, cutaways to the Impersonator's previous domestic establishment (he'd been living with Marly, a 30-ish has-been who'd thrown away ``the potential to become one of the greatest actresses of the theater'') and a long flashback to his childhood (he was a poor boy taken up by a wealthy neighbor girl who grew up to become Theo Buckley) have prepared us for the earth-shaking revelation that ``there is no Barrett. I don't think even Barrett thinks there's a Barrett.'' Finally, Jane's brother Hal, testing the Presidential waters by announcing for the Senate, needs to reopen a discreet investigation into Theo's death in order to make sure there's nothing there for the tabloids, and Hal's investigator Jacklin can't help finding the Impersonator's footprints all over Theo's past, right up to the day of her death. The Impersonator's disappeared from her bed and board--no, he's returned to threaten her with a tire iron--no, wait.... It must have taken so much energy to create this handsome, androgynous enigma and give his friends their world-class rÇsumÇs that there's none left over to pull together the threads of this foolish, deluxe trifle.

Pub Date: July 10th, 1992
ISBN: 0-385-42362-4
Page count: 320pp
Publisher: Doubleday
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1st, 1992


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