SHADES OF RED by Doris Mortman


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Poison lipstick! Bitchy, beauteous tycoons! Decadent playboys!

Just in case no one wants to read about such fun things, there’s also a noble assistant DA (a flyboy in the first Gulf War) who pines for a dedicated cancer researcher with a heart of gold (also a Gulf vet). Yes, Mortman is back (Before and Again, 2003, etc.) with another improbable suspenser and the usual machine-gunned adjectives and tons of turgid prose. Meet the CEO of Hart Line International, a cold-as-ice hybrid of Estee Lauder, Martha Stewart, and Elizabeth Taylor. Look into Vera Hart’s eyes, if you can stand it. “Not a pure sapphire blue nor an absolute emerald green . . . nor the bleached-out green of a backyard pool overdosed with chlorine. They were pure aquamarine gems: rich and precious and mesmerizing.” Vera Hart—former movie star, self-made woman, neglectful mother—now runs a cosmetics/lifestyle/gourmet-coffee empire worth zillions and even has her own TV slot, where she shows America how to pipe meringue out of an icing gun. But it’s not good when Vera discovers that someone’s been cooking the books at HLI. Worse: someone’s tainted a batch of her famous Valentine Red lipstick with mercuric chloride. A disgruntled employee? Why, everyone loves Vera—or maybe not. Bryan Chalmers, assistant DA, takes the case. There’s a personal connection: Dr. Martie Phelps, Vera’s daughter, an urban ER doc and skin-cancer researcher and single mom (whew!), is his former lover. Martie can’t forget her torrid affair with Bryan—and is all the more vulnerable because she still suffers from post-traumatic stress disorder thanks to her hostage ordeal years ago under Iraqi baddies. No one really understands her but Bryan . . . Greta Hart, Vera’s other daughter, sure as hell doesn’t. She resents her brilliant sister and hates the idea that her mother is trying to mend fences with Martie by making her a Hart Foundation honoree. So who poisoned the lipstick? Turn, turn, turn the pages. . . .

Lots to chew on, if you’re a fan.

Pub Date: Feb. 1st, 2005
ISBN: 0-312-27558-7
Page count: 368pp
Publisher: St. Martin's
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1st, 2004


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