SHOOTING STARS by Nicholas Coleridge


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From the author of the non-fiction Around the World in 78 Days (p. 166), a lunkish first novel of British baby-boomers and heroin, with a mild whodunit hook. The once lovely Clare Malory, seemingly cozily closeted in a toney rehabilitation clinic, dies of a fatal overdose. Which of her former lovers smuggled in the heroin to her? Was it Gyles Maynard-Jones, David Bowie look-alike and fellow user? Or puffy Charlies Renouf, the spineless commodity broker? Affable photographer Bill Grierson or perhaps the ne'er-do-well Rollo? Ben Brockbank, 29-year-old London banker and himself an old flame, is determined to find out, so he and life-in-the-fast-lane chum James Cattell mount an investigation. But things look bad for plodding Ben when he's the one to discover another OD victim, and when the police find a stash of cocaine hidden (planted?) in his fiat. The young banker-turned-sleuth trundles blithely on, though, and finally the scruffy Rollo lets fall a telling clue. Is this an anti-drug diatribe or a paean to shooting-up chic? A solemn afterword suggests the former, but the more traditional upwardly mobile amusements that sprawl across the pages of the novel seem as deadening, if not as lethal, as the drug Coleridge decries. The characters in the drug world are more daring, more engaging, in their undoing than their stodgy straight counterparts. Despite its well-intentioned attempt to root around in the effects of a society's ugly secret, the book ultimately shakes out empty: it's too ambiguous to be a morality play, but its cadences are too clumsy, its insights too stale, for it to be a hip evocation of a spoiled generation.

Pub Date: Nov. 1st, 1985
Publisher: William Heinemann--dist. by David & Charles