THE SECOND LADY by Irving Wallace
Kirkus Star

THE SECOND LADY

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KIRKUS REVIEW

As in The Chapman Report, The Seven Minutes, and The Fan, leering Mr. Wallace has again come up with a plot that makes the dirty stuff ostensibly essential to the story; here, it's a reworking of the old Prisoner of Zenda gimmick, with a Russian look-alike taking the place of the U.S. President's wife . . . in bed as well as everywhere else. Actress-agent Vera Valilova, thanks to a touch of plastic surgery and a pubic-hair transplant, is now an exact double for U.S. First Lady Billie Bradford--so when gorgeous Billie visits Moscow, she's kidnapped (fake floor in her hotel room), held in comfy captivity while Vera takes her spot for three weeks. Why? So that Vera can get the lowdown on secret U.S. foreign policy from Prez Andrew before an upcoming London summit showdown. Can Vera get away with it? Everything's okay (except for a scent-wise pooch and a few slips) till she's faced with a gynecological exam (""Could her vagina expose her. . . ?""), and that's fixed by a KGB attack on the regular GYN man. But then, when the substitute gynecologist tells the Prez that wife Billie can now have sex (the real Billie has an infection), it's Big Trouble: ""How does the First Lady of the United States fuck the President of the United States when they go to bed?"" Only the real Billie knows, so while Vera stalls in the bedroom, Moscow KGB-man Razin (Vera's love) tries to win Billie over and get the sexual info; finally he beds her, of course, but cagey Billie gives him a misleading display of ""fellatio, scratching, cursing, legs around his shoulders, the whorehouse works."" (Razin isn't fooled, however: Vera is instructed to take ""straight ordinary missionary position."") And meanwhile, as the summit starts in London, the First Lady's press secretary and ghost-writer (new lovers) get suspicious, sleuth around, overhear KGB plans to kill Vera once her mission is over. All of which leads to Vera's resolution to become permanent First Lady, and then to Razin's West-ward rescue of the real Billie (in a trunk), with a face-to-face showdown finale for the look-alike women just before one of them is bomb-killed. . . but no one knows which one. One of the silliest plots ever? Indubitably. But Wallace paces the twists and turns cleverly enough, with a fair measure of old-timey, cornball-thriller fun. Readable flotsam, then, more sprightly and much dirtier (though Wallace's sort of porn is fast becoming a nostalgia item) than the last couple of Wallace entries.

Pub Date: Oct. 1st, 1980
Publisher: New American Library