Following his death in 1997, Robbins’s hard-driving, spiritually empty The Predators (1998) turns out not to be his farewell novel. Is The Secret? Who knows? But he will be hailed as the same old Harold by his billions of new readers on whatever uncertain plane he happens to be spending the afterlife. For readers eager for the juice only he can pump into scene, Robbins opens page one at a boys’ prep school with the lads playing poker, reading Hustler, and fondling themselves, talking about “bare tit,” “curly crotch hair,” “pussy hair,” then being startled by a knock at the door just as one of them reaches the logical conclusion of such activities. Where can you go from there? Well, into a business novel about sexy lingerie and a chain of stores called Cheeks (the kind you sit on in your undies). And the “secret” of the title? Think of Victoria’s.
Sure to work for those sex-starved, homesick, hungry ghosts Robbins now writes for, who can grab only steam, not their cheeks or other parts, when the novel ends with “a first-class blow job.”