Name Dropping

Jane Heller, Author
Jane Heller, Author St. Martin's Press $24.95 (327p) ISBN 978-0-312-25234-2
Hardcover - 496 pages - 978-0-7862-2979-6
Mass Market Paperbound - 323 pages - 978-0-312-97833-4
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Heller proves once again that she has breeziness down to an artful science. In her latest romantic suspense novel (after Sis Boom Bah), there's another powerful premise as well as a quirkily humorous heroine to hang it on. Nancy Stern, self-described Brunette Who Keeps Her Head, is a teacher at Manhattan's Small Blessings, a tony preschool where ultrachic parents deposit their ""trophy offspring."" Not completely satisfied with her lot in life, Nancy finds herself suffering from serious envy when a second Nancy Stern--who turns out to be a glamorous celebrity journalist--moves into her building and Nancy I begins to find $10,000 AmEx bills and invitations to private movie screenings in her mailbox and phone messages from ardent male admirers. Nancy I is intrigued, desperately wanting to learn if the grass is really greener; when she gets another misdirected phone call, this time from a man asking for a blind date, she decides to be Cinderella for one night and impersonate Nancy II. The blind date turns out to be the man of her dreams, but now that she's told him so many creative untruths, how can she ever go straight? To complicate matters, Nancy II is soon murdered and Nancy I finds herself caught up in a new existence that's even more exciting than she bargained for. Those without cause to take it personally will find it a treat to see Heller turn her culturally observant wit on certain parenting trends. There's even a rollicking and appropriately themed ""shoot-out"" to go with the nursery school setting. With a dearth of fleshed-out suspects for the murder, the mystery aspect of the book is somewhat shortchanged, but most readers will come for the fast pace and the fun, of which there's plenty. Agent Ellen Levine. Author tour. (June)
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