The old slushmeister's plots (Nothing Lasts Forever, 1994, etc.) may be paper-thin, his characters watery, his moralities sugar-dusted, but once again his perfectly empty style--in a broken family romance set in Boston and points exotic--serves him unfailingly. Sexually promiscous multibillionaire/patriarch Harry Stanford tyrannically lords it over a brood that Eugene O'Neill would have a tough time liking: Tyler, a scheming gay judge from Chicago who's lost it for an indifferent hustler; Kendall, a fashion designer who ran over a blind woman, covered it up, and is now being blackmailed; Woody, a polo-playboy smack junkie who beats his wife; and long-lost Julia, the illegitimate daughter of Harry's tryst with his kids' governess, an affair that prompted their natural mother's suicide. When Harry falls off his yacht and drowns, the buzzards circle over the family estate, hankering for their father's will to be probated. Then a woman claiming to be Julia appears, and all are skeptical until Tyler contracts a private detective to validate her identity. We soon learn that Tyler has hired a phony Julia (along with the phony p.i.) and murdered Dad in order to get control of the old man's financial empire. He almost gets away with it, but the real Julia shows up and crashes his premature party. Sweet as pie, Julia Two just wants to reacquaint herself with the family, then finds herself embroiled in Tyler's ongoing dastardliness to such an extent that a white-knight lawyer investigating Harry Stanford's suspicious death rushes both to protect and court her. It may be thin, flawed, and empty, but reading it is as involuntary as breathing.