The Beard is a commercial novel about a commercial artist in the commercial Billy Wilder-Jack Lemmon tradition of The Apartment. It's not nearly as funny as the flick, but does feature acerbic observations about the current Art Game in New York. Fred Duncan is a commercial illustrator who has sold out on his original promise, lost his wife and is living high in a huge old mansion up near Hartford. The government is investigating his entertainment expenses. When Fred's old college chum of twenty years past asks him for a favor, it is that Fred be his ""beard."" A beard is a cover-up third party who masks an adulterous liaison between two other parties. Old chum is now a Junior Senator in Washington and his mistress is the wife of one of Fred's office's clients. These two use his mansion for a few afternoons each week while Fred has to hustle himself off somewhere. Soon, though, Fred is manic with the suspicion that detectives are investigating him and he sees snoopers everywhere. The device is funny enough and handled with sophistication, but the climax is quite invidiously Hollywood.