The Venerable Bead: A Deadly Serious Novel

Richard Condon, Author St. Martin's Press $21.95 (294p) ISBN 978-0-312-08331-1
The eponymous bead is not an 8th-century Benedictine monk but a ruby given to anagrammatic heroine Leila Aluja by her second husband, the most powerful man in the history of Hollywood. Leila, daughter of an Iraqi-born U.S. congressman with Mafia ties, starts as a 1970s Red-hunter, turns into a movie star, then a Madonna-ish rock star, then a president-advising lobbyist-lawyer, and finally the head of a worldwide fast-food empire. Along the way she marries a Sino-Albanian spymaster; then the Hollywood agent; next a gun-lobby exec who turns serial killer, and last a Columbia University professor of Irish studies (his face is Lincolnesque with just a touch of Meyer Lansky). On this rollicking two-decade tour, Condon (Prizzi's Honor, The Final Addiction) gleefully skewers American hypocrisy, venality, stupidity and vulgarity, paying keen attention to tobacco and gun lobbies and to a GOP president who stood for a kinder and gentler America, providing it carried guns. No pious figure himself, Condon here afflicts the comfortable to hilarious effect, aptly subtitling this romp A Deadly Serious Novel. 50,000first panting; major ad/promo. (Nov.)
Reviewed on: 11/02/1992
Release date: 11/01/1992
Paperback - 308 pages - 978-0-312-31277-0
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