THE SEDUCTION OF PETER S. by Lawrence Sanders


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The smirky, undramatic rise of a male prostitute--in a long, frankly plotless novel (171 teensy chapters) that offers Sanders' cheery vulgarity without any of his talent for mystery/suspense. Like the Dustin Hoffman character in Tootsie, narrator Peter Scuro is a failure of a N.Y. actor pushing 40, bitter and frustrated. . . when fi woman in a bar offers him $50 for sex. Peter agrees; the woman turns out to be Martha Twombly, a boutique manager and ex-whore just starting out as a madam for men; and soon Peter is pimping as well as whoring, recruiting his friends for the ever-expanding operation--which eventually includes a call-boy service, an escort service, and three bordellos (known to the public as "Peter's Academy of Dramatic Arts"). There are vignettes with a variety of clients: a voyeur from the West Coast; 84-year-old Becky, "a rowdy, driving lover" in great condition ("When we finally blasted off, I was sobbing, hooting, sneezing, wheezing like a geezer"); an unnamed Washington VIP; assorted threesomes and mild kinks. There are periodic problems to be dealt with: a cop on the take who keeps asking for more money; the angry father of a 15-year-old client (Peter blackmails him into dropping charges, thanks to photos of the teenager in sordid activities); an ex-employee who sets up a rival "stud" ring (Peter's corrupt cop arranges for the competitor to be raided); the constant demand for fresh talent. And, throughout, while sleeping with partner Martha as well as the clients, Peter supposedly pines for true love Jenny--who leaves him when she learns of his new career. Unfortunately, however, Sanders never develops any of the droplets of plot here: an uneasy connection with the Mob (when Peter and Martha need funds to set up a townhouse private-club) supplies only a smattering of tension; the murder of Martha--who is also the secret mistress of a gubernatorial hopeful--comes in the last few pages, far too late to generate suspense. And the character of Peter, which might have provided some much-needed appeal, is a washout, despite his repetitious musings on prostitution as a form of theater. Crass stuff, then, neither funny nor involving, and more like a pornfilm scenario (without the hard-core porn) than a novel--but sure to attract an audience with the Sanders byline, the intriguing opening pages, and the heavily sexual premise.
Pub Date: Aug. 13th, 1983
ISBN: 0425124622
Page count: 394pp
Publisher: Putnam
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1st, 1983


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