THE PLEASURE BUSINESS by Patrick Anderson

THE PLEASURE BUSINESS

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KIRKUS REVIEW

From a speechwriter-turned-novelist, now living in D.C.: slack and silly middle-aged wish-fulfillment about a speechwriter-turned-novelist, living in D.C., who takes on a lair of snarling villains as he saves family, friend, and nation from a cockeyed political conspiracy. Anderson's hero, 50-ish Grady Malloy, narrates his far-fetched tale with a cloying pomposity (""Need I say that our paradise was soon to be lost?"") that drags against the antic flow of events. The story starts when Malloy's daughter, Penny, calls from college to ask that he look up her chum Bonnie during his trip to N.Y.C.; Bonnie--daughter of Malloy's old pal Harry Prescott, US Senator and prime presidential timber--has left school and is in unspecified trouble. In N.Y., Malloy meets with Bonnie, who confesses that she's working as a high-class call girl--and wants Malloy to write a kiss-and-tell book with her. He declines. Back in D.C., the real shocker comes: a N. Y. Times headline about a massacre in an apartment where Bonnie took Malloy. Among the dead: two Arab princes and several call girls. Off to N.Y. flies Malloy--Bonnie's not one of the dead. His daughter calls again: Bonnie's back at school, scared. Off to the Charlottesville campus drives Malloy--to find no Bonnie, only Penny with a broken jaw, thanks to thugs who tried to snatch Bonnie (who ran away) and the cassette she took from the apartment the night of the massacre. That tape--evidence of a kooky plan by now-villains Prescott and his tycoon dad-in-law to ""internationalize"" Arab oil fields once Prescott is president--proves the honey that attracts other bad guys (a sadistic Mafia coke-dealer, a renegade CIA-agent, etc.), and that spins Malloy into a mouse-that-roared heroism with expectedly violent and happy results. Some insider-detailing of the Washington power-game and a cynical moral at novel's end (politics as pleasure business) don't redeem what's fundamentally a stick-figured daydream. Simple-minded and predictable.

Pub Date: April 20th, 1989
Publisher: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich