Valerie Block, Author . Ballantine $23.95 (352p) ISBN 978-0-345-46184-1

As Block demonstrated in Was It Something I Said?, she has Richard Condon's manic energy and the here-and-now vocabulary of this week's Time Out New York. Oh, and she has the police procedural thing down pat. Best of all, she has a comic streak that's ruthless yet weirdly compassionate, because it's truly character-driven. Take Erica King, the mastermind behind a plot that involves the computerized theft of millions. To her self-absorbed colleagues at the accounting firm, she's a dowdy, bitchy workaholic spinster whose dull life can only be improved by hearing about their menstrual cramps and getting advice on updating her hairstyle. But in several separate incarnations—as Heidi, Maria and Marjorie—she has different wardrobes, addresses, computers and psyches, not to mention illicit megabucks stashed offshore. Although the old-fashioned hairdo turns out to be a wig covering baldness dating to childhood, it's somehow no surprise that she lures her boss, tycoon Mitch Greiff, away from his former model wife, Patricia, who was always bothering him to put on sunblock and make nice to their new best friends. Just to even the score, Patricia seduces Det. Anthony Ballestrino, in charge of figuring out what happened to a great deal of money supposedly being managed by Mitch Greiff's firm. With its cast of dozens, all fully realized, the novel is occasionally dizzying but always diverting. Agent, Gail Hochman. (June)

Reviewed on: 06/16/2003
Release date: 06/01/2003
Genre: Fiction
Peanut Press/Palm Reader - 308 pages - 978-0-345-47839-9
Paperback - 337 pages - 978-0-345-46399-9
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