Olivia Goldsmith, Author . Dutton $24.95 (368p) ISBN 978-0-525-94644-1

An old hand at the hell-hath-no-fury revenge novel, Goldsmith sets her latest humorous caper in an unlikely location—behind bars. When "Wall Street showboater" Jennifer Spencer agreed to "take the heat" for her boss's insider trading, she thought at worst she'd be sent to some country club prison for white collar ladies. At the very least, Tom Branson, "the sharpest (and most handsome) young counsel on the Street" (as well as her "beloved fiancé") would arrange for special treatment and an expedited appeal that would have her back in her posh office within days. But once the gate is locked at Jennings Correctional Facility, Jennifer realizes that her boss, and somehow even Tom, have abandoned her to serve the full three to five years in a "battleship pink" hellhole. In earlier novels, Goldsmith (The First Wives Club, etc.) embraced her heroines' consumerism with wicked glee; here, she strains to teach Jennifer "values, co-operation, and probably some humility" at the hands of an implausibly benevolent warden and some noble, wholesome inmates. Assigned to the "crew" of Movita Watson, the sassy "queen bee" of Jennings, Jennifer is persuaded to use her Wall Street smarts to help fight the privatization of Jennings—and get back at the "yellow rat bastards" who put her there. The revenge scheme is amusingly intricate, but it doesn't jibe with the desperate, tragic air of the prison setting or the frequent didactic speeches about rehabilitation. Even Goldsmith's famous ear for dishy girl talk is lacking here, as the inmates (particularly Movita) speak a highfalutin jailhouse jive that wavers dangerously in tone. After Diana Brooks aided the prosecution at the Sotheby's trial, it's no longer funny when a woman is urged to take the rap for her boss. And does anybody still think Wall Street can come to the rescue? (Feb.)

Forecast:Goldsmith's fans may be briefly amused by the idea of one of her pampered protagonists in prison—but will they ante up to read about ladies in jumpsuits?

Reviewed on: 01/07/2002
Release date: 02/01/2002
Genre: Fiction
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