IMPERFECT STRANGERS by Stuart Woods

IMPERFECT STRANGERS

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KIRKUS REVIEW

 Plot-starved novelists could do worse than raid old Hitchcock films for stories, but they had better pilfer with greater skill than Woods (Heat, 1994, etc.) does in his craftless new thriller. Dapper, epicurean, and adulterous international wine merchant Sandy Kinsolving wants his insufferable wife, Joan, dead. Peter Martindale, a dissolute art dealer and psychotic Sandy meets on a transatlantic flight from London, is willing to lend a hand- -provided Sandy repays the favor and bumps off Peter's insufferable wife. After watching--yup--Strangers on a Train (the in-flight movie), Sandy and Peter decide to imitate the film's circle of complicity. Sandy, however, experiences a moral epiphany and aborts the hit on Joan, but Peter kills her anyway. With Joan on a slab, and with the appearance of a new will drafted by her recently deceased father (also Sandy's boss), Sandy suddenly finds himself a multimillionaire, in possession of both his late wife's inheritance and the wine division of the family liquor business, which he had thought Joan was conspiring to ``steal'' from him (his original reason for agreeing to Peter's plan). He promptly focuses his energy on purchasing a Napa Valley vineyard and on courting Cara Mason, a leggy stranger he meets while getting off a plane. Unfortunately, he also keeps receiving calls from Peter, who insists that Sandy follow through on their deal. Trapped between the devil and the thin blue line--the latter in the form of a curiously ineffective (although intriguing) Haitian NYPD detective named Alain Duvivier--Sandy acquires the winery, tries to spin the tables on Peter, and remarries, all of which leads to a final showdown on Alcatraz that plays like a foggy version of the final scene from Vertigo. Wooden dialogue, thinly inked characters, and a telegraphed central twist only inflict more pain. Perfectly crummy. (Book-of-the-Month Club/Quality Paperback Book Club alternate selections)

Pub Date: Jan. 4th, 1995
ISBN: 0-06-017775-6
Page count: 288pp
Publisher: HarperCollins
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15th, 1994




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