RANDOM HEARTS by Warren Adler


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Lily Davis and Orson Simpson are off on a secret adultery-vacation--they're both married to other people--when their D.C.-to-Miami plane crashes into the Potomac, killing just about everybody aboard. Lily and Orson were traveling under fake names; they told their spouses they were taking business trips to L.A. (Lily) and Europe (Orson). So it takes a while before their bodies are identified--and before the big shockers are delivered to Lily's husband Edward and Orson's wife Vivien (who are total strangers); they're both stunned about the deaths. They're both even more upset, however, to learn that Lily and Orson were traveling as husband-and-wife. So wimpy Edward and bovine Vivien start meeting--to share their grief, their anger; to stew over just why their mates were unfaithful; to reconstruct details of the adulterers' deception. (They also learn that Lily was pregnant, which leads to much chat about just whose baby it was.) And eventually, all too predictably, Edward and Vivien fall into each other's arms--to the accompaniment of purple prose and styrofoam dialogue. (Edward describes his love: ""Like a pile of dry tinder, something hidden and unseen, a mysterious life force, suddenly becoming hot, bursting into flame, lighting up a totally interior world that we didn't know existed. All we knew was that we could sense the source of the flame."") Adler, author of decent thrillers and engaging social comedies, attempts to fill out this soap-opera anecdote here and there--with Edward's job, some troublesome in-laws, and the morose cop who's handling the air-crash case. But, even at a slight 230 pages, this novel is slow, talky, and repetitious: a shallow TV-movie idea that's all goo and air once the gimmicky premise is established.

Pub Date: April 27th, 1984
ISBN: 000005805X
Publisher: Macmillan