A True Story
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 As in Ulterior Motives (1987), Finstad focuses here on money, megalomania, and mayhem, Texas-style. Unfortunately, in addition to the locale, she has also retained the excessive detailing that marred the earlier work, producing a rather plodding account of the life of her subject, one Barbara Piotrowski. According to Finstad, Piotrowski displayed both intelligence and beauty when growing up in Los Angeles. As a teen-ager, she modeled, competed in beauty contests, and dreamed of becoming a doctor--but she was also a victim of rape and was busted for peddling drugs in high school. While skiing in Aspen in 1977, Piotrowski met Richard Minns, the 40-ish millionaire founder of a chain of Texas health clubs. Three months later, she traveled to Houston and moved in with Minns. At first, the relationship flourished--Acapulco weekends, posh dinners, designer clothes. However, unknown to his bedazzled mistress, Minns was married; he was also a mythomaniac, a braggart, and a penny pincher. When Minns's wife, Mimi, sued for divorce, it was the loss of community property that most bothered the playboy millionaire. Eventually, the Minns-Piotrowski relationship soured, though not before the two had exchanged personal marriage vows. Piotrowski later claimed she grew afraid of Minns after he broke her nose during a particularly virulent argument. She nonetheless remained in Houston, living in an apartment furnished by her ex-lover. After a great many legal complications, Piotrowski was shot four times by a hired gunman. She survived but was paralyzed from the neck down, and evidence seems to indicate that the contract on her life stemmed from Minns, who has fled to Europe and ignores court summonses to appear. Today, Piotrowski works with a neuromuscular research organization in California. A complicated yarn, full of seeming inconsistencies, and told with a fervent thoroughness that, rather than adding depth, destroys both tension and narrative flow. (Sixteen pages of photographs--some seen.)

Pub Date: July 16th, 1991
ISBN: 0-688-08357-9
Page count: 416pp
Publisher: Morrow/HarperCollins
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15th, 1991