Jane Goldman, Author Pocket Books $22.95 (338p) ISBN 978-0-671-78720-2
The MTV audience will enjoy this wild ride of a novel that's a cut above the average pop phenom. In her complexly plotted, edgy debut, Goldman combines suspense with a deft skewering of the kitschy illusions of American theme parks. Sylvia Avery, 25, works as a security officer for Dreamworld in Orlando. Her job is to ensure that any unpleasantness is quickly swept from public view so as not to ""break the illusion for everyone else."" Since she's a true believer in magic and innocence, and only occasionally jaded with Dreamworld's paradisiacal pretensions, she has no problem protecting the image. That is, until two dead bodies are discovered, and she's promoted by her boss, who's also her lover, to help investigate the apparent murder/suicide. Avery, as she's called, plays along at first with Dreamworld's chilling cover-up scheme, but her sleuthing leads to a research facility where experimental pharmaceuticals are tested on volunteers as part of a program to create the perfect entertainment experience. When she realizes that the lab's practices aren't just fun and games, she must decide whether to keep quiet or expose the truth. Goldman (The Official X Files Book of the Unexplained) makes Avery an appealing heroine, depicting her as gutsy and vulnerable, na ve and quick thinking. The macabre quality of the killings aptly points up the book's more serious implications. Not least of these is the critique of Dreamworld as a kind of Twilight Zone where the illusion of charm and whimsy belies a frightening, amoral vision, and where public relations supersedes justice. While Goldman's overly clever pop culture references and hard-to-follow prose are sometimes annoying, her tale guarantees that readers may henceforth regard theme parks with a dash of suspicion. Agent, Mary Pachnos. (Apr.)
Reviewed on: 04/03/2000
Release date: 04/01/2000
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