COVER-UP STORY by Marian Babson


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Babson, in good form here, introduces the struggling London PR firm of Perkins and Tate. Doug Perkins is all too aware that their trying new American client--up-and-coming Black Bart and his Hillbilly Troupe--may mean solvency at last. But Black Bart doesn't make it easy. He's a handsome, egomaniacal bully who lusts after teen-age girls. Shotgunned into marrying one of them--Lou-Ann Cooney, his comedy act--by her pushy, ever-present mother, Bart now ignores her and spends his time leaning on sister Crystal; her husband Eugene, called Uncle N'ccount; road manager Sam: and the rest of the loutish troupe. Gradually, Doug sorts out the bad vibes: Sam wants Lou-Ann to be the show's star and Bart's ex-wife; Eugene wants credit for songs that Bart claims to have written, and he wants to live with Crystal, forbidden by you-know-who; Lou-Ann's Mam Cooney wants it all for her little girl, and isn't above laying a bit of blackmail on her son-in-law. When she's killed by a car at a busy London street crossing and, expiring, says she was pushed, Doug wonders. . .but the thought goes nowhere. Another near-tragedy eventually brings justice, retribution, and an unsurprising finish to a story with little mystery and even less sleuthing. There is menace in the air here, a vivid cast of characters, a sharp look behind the Nashville hokum, and a charmingly diffident narrator in PR man Doug Perkins, who may do some detective work in future outings. Frothy, funny, and easy to take.

Pub Date: Oct. 18th, 1988
Publisher: St. Martin's