Face Down in the Park

Leonard Foglia, Author, David Richards, Joint Author
Leonard Foglia, Author, David Richards, Joint Author Pocket Books $23 (320p) ISBN 978-0-671-02728-5
Reviewed on: 03/01/1999
Release date: 03/01/1999
Mass Market Paperbound - 368 pages - 978-0-671-02729-2
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In their second successful collaboration (after 1 Ragged Ridge Road), Tony Award-winning director Foglia (Master Class) and former cultural correspondent for the Washington Post Richards create as protagonist a man attacked in New York and robbed of his wallet, his identity and his memory. Having been knocked unconscious in Central Park, perhaps the victim of attempted murder, Brent Stevens is clueless as to his former life. When personal fitness trainer Tina Ruffo comes to his aid after he collapses outside the fabled Dakota apartment house, the aerobics maven from Queens finds that she can't resist helping the handsome stranger. Using the key to the hotel room found in his pocket, the pair discover his name and some salient facts, and begin to reconstruct his past and understand why he is now in peril. Meanwhile, out in Hollywood, Tinseltown's favorite golden couple, Jennifer Osborne and Christopher Knight, prepare for the premiere of their controversial new film, a figleaf-less adaptation of the creation story, which is stirring alarm among conservative religious groups. Gradually it is revealed that Brent's fortunes are tied to the stars through a blackmail scheme cooked up with slick Hollywood press agent Geoffrey Reed, involving compromising photos Brent had taken of the actors. Despite slow-motion character descriptions at the beginning and relentlessly chirpy but stiff dialogue, the authors' adept pacing and their smart parceling out of clues ratchets up the suspense. Given the authors' insider take on the entertainment industry, some of their West Coast creations are spot-on, with fictional interviewer Deborah Myers a perfect Barbara Walters clone. On the East Coast, however, while Brent makes an adequately credible befuddled hero, Tina's heart-of-gold tough cookie verges on the stereotypical and her constant exclamatory statements and interjectory tics (""Paula H. Prude!"" ""Jerry H. Seinfeld!"") merely annoy. These cavils notwithstanding, this is a peppy story with appealing moments of celebrity titillation. (Mar.)
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