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The real-life 1930s suicide of an RJ Reynolds tobacco heir is the point of departure for this mind-bogglingly tangled southern-royalty melodrama. Golden, bored Kyle King Castleton has everything, but it looks like he doesn't want it when he's found shot dead in his sleeping porch, leaving behind his boundless future, his tobacco millions, his beautiful showgirl bride Faith, and his scheming family, ""the most well known in the entire South."" After a busybody county attorney succeeds in getting a murder indictment despite the initial impression of suicide, the sheriff's son, green deputy Wyn Ainsley, sent to New York to escort Faith back to North Carolina, ends up getting seduced by her, and the tale seems about to settle into a legal-intrigue groove. But the surviving Castletons keep turning up in subplots that run away with the story. Kyle's brother Holt plots to get his hands on the stock willed to Kyle's heirs; his sister Gaby Inscott plans to shed her husband, a tediously attentive fortune-hunter, and legalize her comfortable affair with Castleton estate manager Russell Vance; his aunt Serena Burris sees her last chance to grab the family reins. Not to be outdone, Faith announces her posthumous pregnancy, threatening an heir who'll undo the best-laid Castleton plans, and labors to keep her Rego Park family connections out of the picture while still holding entranced Wyn in her thrall. But can even a natural-born performer Faith, n‚e Helen Siegenthaler, hold center stage when she's competing with race-baiting, cross-burning, TV sex, TV social history, and enough family/romantic/political treachery for three seasons in hell? Katkov (The Judas Kiss, 1991, etc.) plots as if he were throwing every intrigue he owned into a suitcase one jump ahead of the law, and heaven help any would-be heroes who try to wrestle this juicy soap opera into the kind of shape Sidney Sheldon fans will look for--and may not even miss.

Pub Date: Jan. 8th, 1996
Page count: 384pp
Publisher: Dutton