Finance and fine art are interwoven in this second novel by the author of Green Monday--and only readers with a fair measure of sophistication in both areas will fully enjoy (or, at times, fully comprehend) the dense, erudite, digressively witty goings-on here. The basic premise is simple enough: Texas multibillionaire Buford Gudge IV hates everyone on the East Coast (for complicated family reasons), especially his half-sister Granada Masterman. So now, dying of cancer at 50, Gudge, aided by his impassive lawyer/major-domo Katagira, concocts a plan to foil Granada's Wall St. ambitions and dupe the whole Eastern money-establishment. Meanwhile, too, he'll show Granada up by dispatching his young wife Caryn to Manhattan--where she'll be turned into the Talk of the Town by PR genius Sol Greschner (modeled on the late Ben Sonnenberg). The slowly developed financial ramifications of Gudge's scheme, however, are far from simple. (They involve the state of the whole bond market, along with a large cast of dealers, three of whom are named--confusingly--Homer, Hugo, and Harvey.) And when the young, promiscuous Mrs. Gudge takes a fancy to Renaissance art, much of the focus centers on 40-ish art-dealer Nick Reverey, a Greschner protÃ‰gÃ‰ who keeps trying to explain to Mrs. G. why she can't buy the priceless Lefcourt Collection; after all, Nick is more interested in selling a newly discovered set of Rubens drawings (which he eventually does, for 7.8 million). . . and in Jill Newman, a high-society columnist (and secret finance columnist!) who is True Love at last--despite some problems when Nick succumbs to Mrs. G.'s seduction. Thomas' very leisurely narrative, then, roams from character to character, from stockholder-chat to museum-chat, from sentimental comedy to rather broad farce. (There are cartoony vignettes involving a lady who writes bestselling sex-novels, a lascivious shrink, and a trend-setting couple Ã la la Renta.) Plus: literary allusions and joke-names along the way, commentaries on American business and politics, and bits of financial and social history. So, unlike Paul Erdman, who zooms in on one or two business issues and makes them easy, light reading for the average intelligent reader, Thomas packs every page with information, nuances, and in-the-know references. And many readers will find this too thin on plot or action, too rambling in its whimsical variety of preoccupations. But, for those savvy about takeover-deals and/or art and/or the trendy New York scene: a rich, sardonic, highly civilized entertainment.