PEEPER by William Brinkley


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Mild sex comedy, Texas-style--as a small town called Martha, down on the Rio Grande, is terrorized (ever so elegantly) by a Peeping Tom . . . whose interpolated exploits here give Brinkley (Don't Go Near The Water, Breakpoint) a chance to indulge in long descriptions of women undressing and bathing. But most of the story is casually told by loner Dan Baxter, the local newspaper owner-editor--a 40-ish ex-D.C. newsman who lives for his three-day weekends on his 36-foot boat in the Gulf. And Baxter looks forward to even more leisure time with the arrival of a new $65-a-week assistant: rich kid Jamie Scarborough, a tough-talking tomboy of a college student with big ambitions. Once the Peeper starts peeping, however (he leaves expensive little presents for his peep-ees), Jamie prods Baxter into really covering the story: they go all-out, do interviews and pictures, and outrage the image-conscious town leaders--who withdraw their ads . . . until Baxter's retaliatory shut-down forces them to acknowledge the independence of the press. Eventually, then, Jamie (inevitably heading for romance with grumpy Baxter) comes face to face with the Peeper--a town dignitary (no real surprise) who quite happily abandons his hobby when the process of elimination threatens to expose him. True, plots don't come much thinner than this one. And Brinkley's voyeuristic padding--plus his view of the Peeper as a connoisseur who altruistically spreads awareness-of-female-pulchritude--will not endear him to the liberated. But much of the small-town atmosphere and characterization is folksily engaging. (Police chief Freight Train Flowers responds to a reference to the Oedipus Complex: ""What's that? . . . That new shopping center in Houston?"") And the local-newspaper details--as well as some less expected ones on vegetable-crop economics--manage to turn this into a fairly painless, if only spottily amusing, slice of soft-edged, down-home ribaldry.

Pub Date: Nov. 1st, 1981
Publisher: Viking