Second novel by the author of Promises to Keep (1988), which was a leaden imagining of what might have been had President Kennedy survived his assassination. This time Bernau imagines what might have been had Marilyn Monroe survived her ""suicide""--in quotes because here it's attempted murder. And President Kennedy is back again, now as President Jack Kerrigan who is being protected by his brother, Attorney General Tommy Kerrigan, who is covering up the near-""pilldeath"" of his sometime lover, legendary film beauty Marilyn Lane, whom we find on page one lying nude on her bed and holding onto life like a candle-flame in Elton John's wind. What we also get are buckets of description, sensory detail, physical movement and melodrama at the expense of any spark of life from the story's originals, with minor characters such as Peter Lawford (alcoholic Paul Townsend, who likes being whipped) and Joe DiMaggio (failed prizefighter Joe Malloy, Marilyn's first husband), being wheeled on encased in blustering clichÃ‰s. Mainly, Bernau introduces Frank Galvan, ""private detective to the stars,"" who senses the suicide is a setup and who is now Marilyn's protector against mysterious forces out to do her in. Who could they be? Well, there's assassin Herbert Kalen, and ""Billy the Kid"" Marvin of the CIA, and McGowan of the Secret Service, a killer involved in a plot against the President. Marilyn, trailed by Kalen, flees the hospital to see her shrink (she's four days off pills and fighting her habit) and then is on the run for two weeks, aided in part by Malloy, until she meets with Jack Kerrigan at the Kerrigan family compound at Point Triondak, where she refuses to lay one last time for him and tells Jack she is a changed woman. Meanwhile, the plot against the President proceeds, with delirious implausibility, as McGowan slashes Jack's tires and Jack and Marilyn crash off the bridge at Triodek into the bay and Marilyn drowns--or is that her former stand-in, look-alike Shuree Palmer, photographer/blackmailer, floating to the surface? A potboiler whose bad-tasting ingredients make the heart faint.