The 27-year-old author's second novel (following Coyote, 1990) delights with its tale of a profitable encounter between the habituÇs of a postmodern N.Y.C. coffee shop and a powerful trickster spirit from the ancient past. Handsome, well-educated, and reasonably likable, Eric Auden appears to be wasting his youth as he struggles against a lingering case of late-20s ennui. Divorced from a successful TV journalist, unable to decide on a career of his own, Eric wanders into the Metropolitan Museum of Art one wintry morning, little realizing that there he'll find the woman who can alter his fate. Noting that the Greek Antiquities section, closed for renovation, has been left unguarded, Eric impulsively slips inside, comes across a palm-sized Cycladic stone idol in an unlocked case, and, uncharacteristically, gives in to the urge to grab her and smuggle her away. Stunned by his own audacity, Eric believes as he retreats to his downtown loft that he alone is responsible for the fix in which he now finds himself. But, as Eric soon begins to suspect--along with neighbor Matthew, an aspiring artist to whom Eric confesses his crime, and other eccentric regulars in the Mystery Roast coffee shop on the first floor--their spurious plans to make a fortune by turning the ``Goddess of Desire'' into the latest Pet Rock-type fad prove successful only because mass proliferation happens to be on the agenda of the Goddess herself. In the end, the satisfied spirit- -once again worshipped by thousands who hope she will answer their prayers, graciously rewards her clumsy acolytes--providing Eric with a new love, Matthew with artistic fame, and greater wisdom and happiness for all. Gadol's characters' unique mix of youthful wonder with a lighthearted disregard for traditional authority makes for wry, sharp urban humor: a witty, entertaining New York tale.