TO DO NO HARM by Leslie Glass


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A suburban family's perfect first pregnancy is shadowed by a desperate baby-broker, the serpent who invades the edenic world of Glass's civilized comedies (Getting Away with It, 1976; Modern Love, 1983) with weirdly entertaining results. Children's book illustrator Bettina Dunne has been moved by her adoring engineer husband Tom from scary Manhattan to pastel Chester, New Jersey, where even the elevators are polite (""Going down; enjoy the rest of your day"") when a triple-whammy strikes. First, Tom's briskly heartless boas, mouthing empty promises of support for his wife, dispatches him to talk sense into a mulish power-plant in a flatland Middle Eastern inferno. Then, just as he's succeeded in repairing the flaw that's kept the plant offline, Tom's struck down by an accident that keeps him from returning or even phoning just as Bettina's about to deliver. Finally, another woman in Bettina's maternity ward who's been planning to put her newborn up for adoption by twice-miscarried Laura Hunter and her hypercritical husband Wendal delivers a child whose heart is fatally defective--leaving Peter Balkan, the drugged-out, mob-haunted lawyer who's arranged the adoption, desperate to find another baby. What makes this sturdily suspenseful tale so special is Glass's unsettling mixture of light comedy and overwrought melodrama--mostly filtered through the dim awareness of innocents like Bettina and Tom or matter-of-fact crazies like Peter's RN girlfriend and accomplice Isobel, professionally determined to reassure Bettina (""Open your eyes now, it's all right"") while she's shooting her up with a dangerous hallucinogenic. Think of Fay Weldon trying her hand at suspense novels--think of that and relax, dear.

Pub Date: Nov. 24th, 1992
Page count: 320pp
Publisher: Doubleday