This first US publication for a novel Slesar (The Thing at the Door, 1974, etc.) originally published in Europe in 1990 finds the veteran storyteller, whose TV credits go back to Alfred Hitchcock Presents, plotting murder in the world he used to work in, the hothouse universe of the soap opera. Bill Troy, the NYPD detective whose first assignment on the department’s Movie/TV Unit is to troubleshoot some location work for the venerable Heartbreak Hospital, soon finds himself falling for imperious Sunday Tyler, who plays the program’s resident bitch. But Sunday’s gotten so good at living into her character that everybody else around her is impervious to the charms Troy can’t resist. Heartbreak Hospital’s star, Milo Derringer, who normally regards his marriage to Sunday as merely inconvenient, is more than piqued when she threatens to kill off his character; head writer Bob Neffer trembles before her power to get him canned; executive producer Abel McAfee squirms under her blackmail threats. It’s archly amusing to watch the cast and crew mimic the show’s shenanigans, but once Sunday (surprise!) gets killed, the sequel is more of the same, right down to the daytime drama Troy finds himself in when his ex-live-in turns up on his doorstep to demand marriage in the name of the baby she’s carrying. Even the final twists are faithful to Heartbreak Hospital’s sudsy formula, sharpening the novel’s appeal to soap-opera fans while inviting everybody else to the egress.