cover image Malibu


Pat Booth. Crown Publishers, $19.95 (375pp) ISBN 978-0-517-57506-2

In the seventh of Booth's novels of fashionable places (most recently Beverly Hills ), photographer Pat Parker forsakes trendy Manhattan clubs to focus on the celebrity enclave of Malibu. After a harsh encounter with her mentor-to-be, environmental photographer Ben Alabama (whose fame rivals that of Ansel Adams), Pat faces a dilemma: Should she be true to Alabama's cause, the preservation of Malibu's remaining wilderness, or accept a big-bucks job with New Celebrity magazine, owned by Alabama's enemy, developer and media baron Dick Latham? Heading the magazine's masthead is Emma Guinness, veteran of London scandal rags and queen of rapacity. When Pat becomes involved with a promising young actor who once spurned Emma's advances, Emma vows vengeance on one and all. Booth hinges the denouement on a highly unlikely secret, further weakening a plot burdened by vapid dialogue, swollen prose and improbable events. Real issues clash awkwardly against heavy name-dropping in this montage of steamy sex, lost causes and wide-angle comeuppance. (Aug.)