Nothing Personal

Jason Starr, Author Thunder's Mouth Press $14 (256p) ISBN 978-1-56858-161-3
Noir devotee Starr's jet-black kidnapping/extortion thriller has attitude to spare. Too bad it doesn't have wit and style to match: his all-too-familiar venture into James M. Cain territory is populated by a cast of paper-thin, exceedingly unpleasant characters, all of whom quickly outstay their welcome. Davis Sussman is an arrogant, control-freak advertising executive, who finds himself in a tricky position when his temperamental mistress, Amy Lee, decides that she's tired of being his plaything. Joey DePino is a down-on-his-luck cable installer with compulsive gambling habits and a fast-deteriorating marriage. David's wife, Leslie, is best friends with Joey's wife, Maureen, and faster than you can say ""plot contrivance,"" desperately-in-debt Joey has hatched a plan to kidnap the Sussmans' beloved daughter, Jessica, and hold her for $30,000 ransom. There are, of course, myriad complications. Joey injudiciously picks a brain-damaged sex maniac, who goes by the colorful sobriquet ""Billy Balls,"" to be his partner-in-crime, while David finds himself being blackmailed by a vengeful (and markedly unhinged) Amy. In the hands of a master of tongue-in-cheek edge, like Elmore Leonard, or an expert practitioner of the down-and-dirty melodrama, like Donald Westlake's alter ego Richard Stark, this premise could provide the foundation for a sharp, caustically funny sendup of marriage, adultery and obsessive behavior. Unfortunately, Starr's approach is much more run-of-the-mill. His dialogue is flat and listless, lacking the necessary staccato, noirish bite; his plotting is mundane and his observations (""Maureen's insecurity was something Leslie could always count on. No matter how bad things got in Leslie's life, Maureen was always a step lower"") are uninspired to the point of banality. Although it moves along smoothly and just manages to retain the reader's interest throughout, Starr's novel proves to be a decidedly low-wattage thriller. Film rights to Spice Factory. (May)
Reviewed on: 04/03/2000
Release date: 04/01/2000
Show other formats
FORMATS
Hardcover - 256 pages - 978-1-901982-05-3
Hardcover - 250 pages - 978-1-901982-99-2
X
Stay ahead with
Tip Sheet!
Free newsletter: the hottest new books, features and more
X
Only $18.95/month for Digital Access
or $20.95 for Print+Digital Access!
X
Only $18.95/month for Digital Access
or $20.95 for Print+Digital Access!
X
Email Address

Password

Log In Lost Password

PW has integrated its print and digital subscriptions, offering exciting new benefits to subscribers, who are now entitled to both the print edition and the digital editions of PW (online or via our app). For instructions on how to set up your accout for digital access, click here. For more information, click here.

The part of the site you are trying to access is now available to subscribers only. Subscribers: to set up your digital subscription with the new system (if you have not done so already), click here. To subscribe, click here.

Email pw@pubservice.com with questions.

Not Registered? Click here.