THE BURNING by Thomas Legendre


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A rogue economist negotiates a complicated web of personal and professional issues in this ambitious debut.

Having just defended his dissertation at Penn, newly minted doctor of economics Logan Smith unwinds with a weekend trip to Las Vegas. Resisting his companions’ invitation to visit a strip club, he settles in at the blackjack table for some carefully budgeted, systematic gambling. He soon falls under the sway of voluptuous, redheaded dealer Dallas Cole. As she schools the cautious young man in the thrills of reckless behavior, their heady partnership moves from the casino to the bedroom and, when Logan takes a teaching position at the University of Arizona, to a hasty and ill-considered marriage. Dallas is not well-suited to life in Phoenix, nor does she make the ideal academic wife. Voraciously needy and intensely self-centered, she resents every moment Logan spends on his attempt to dismantle classical economic models and build a new theory that conforms to the laws of thermodynamics. As his passion for the project grows, her behavior becomes more desperate. Ultimately, she spends his entire trust fund on video poker and slot machines, then earns the money back by prostituting herself. Meanwhile, Logan contends with university politics and falls in love with the scientist who is helping him with his paper, a smart, emotionally astute single mother named Keris, with glasses and a sensible haircut. Logan’s personal and professional lives collide when he learns that Keris had a one-night stand with his departmental rival, the ambitious and craven Deck. Lectures on economic theory, academic conferences and the occasional burst of astrophysics frequently interrupt a fairly conventional love story featuring a down-market femme fatale who would be quite at home in a Jackie Collins novel. If it sounds like these elements might not fit together well, that’s because they don’t.

Confused and confusing.

Pub Date: July 7th, 2006
ISBN: 0-316-15380-X
Page count: 368pp
Publisher: Little, Brown
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15th, 2006