The Graceful Exit

Rita Kashner, Author Atheneum Books $17.95 (211p) ISBN 978-0-689-12085-5
Kashner's caustic wit and gift for zippy dialogue have not deserted her, but this third novel (after To the Tenth Generation ) strays too far from credibility to be truly satisfying. Caroline Mayhew, 35-ish Westchester divorcee, becomes a client of Great Events, a service run by elegant Margaret Ten Hagen. This apparently altruistic business provides a ``peak moment . . . a lifetime high'' for those on the verge of death. Determined to provide a grand send-off for her cirrhosis-ridden, alcoholic father, Caroline agrees to Margaret's arrangements for him to enjoy a week of golf at St. Andrews and a bibulous evening in a castle full of rare old whisky before being painlessly (and of course secretly) dispatched. Intrigued by Great Events' merciful premise, Caroline becomes Margaret's assistant. She is disillusioned, however, when she finds that many of Margaret's clients are in good health, their demise requested by those who would benefit from their final departure. When a narcissistic woman, who has arranged for her own grand exit to spite an ex-lover, dies before her time under suspicious circumstances, Caroline turns sleuth, accompanied by a client who turns out to be not at all what she expected. While the novel is fun to read, even its outlandish developments are manifestly predictable. (Oct . )
Reviewed on: 01/01/1989
Release date: 01/01/1989
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