WHITE WIDOW by Jim Lehrer

WHITE WIDOW

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KIRKUS REVIEW

PBS newscaster Lehrer (Last Debate, 1995, etc.) gives us, in his tenth novel, all the reason a man could need for keeping clear of road trips with mysterious women. On the face of it, Jack Oliver seems to have everything worked out. It's the 1950s, and Jack, a bus driver in Texas, lives for his job (he's about to be named a "master operator"), his friends (a crazy crew of drivers with names like College, Preacher, and Progress), and his wife Loretta (who's a tad overweight). Lehrer himself, it seems, worked for the Trailways line while in college and manages vividly to convey the joys, hopes, and dangers of driving a bus through the Lone Star State in the '50s. Based on his latest novel, a reader has to assume that one of the biggest hazards of the road were the "white widows," beautiful, almost ethereal passengers who cruised bus routes and seduced the drivers, and Jack comes across one on the very first page. "Jack wasn't sure where the expression 'white widow' came from but he had heard it from his first day with Grand Western. It meant any mysterious, perfect woman passenger who was probably not available. A black widow only better." When he sees Ava, a stunning brunette who only rides on one-way tickets, he knows that he's lost, and it's only a matter of (not very much) time before she ruins him. His fantasies becomes obsessions, eventually taking control of his life. Under their spell, in the best Grand Guignol manner, Jack resorts to deception, infidelity, and murder, without ever receiving the smallest satisfaction--or even encouragement--from the woman of his dreams. The end is, unsurprisingly, lurid and incredible. A childish and embarrassing work.
Pub Date: Jan. 1st, 1997
ISBN: 0-679-45236-2
Page count: 224pp
Publisher: Random House
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15th, 1996




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