THE BEAUTY

Gloria Nagy, Author . Overlook $26.95 (290p) ISBN 978-1-58567-149-6

Fatal Attraction goes to Newport in this thriller that starts out satirizing East Coast class distinctions and ends by piling up more bodies than a teen screamer. When ex-crime reporter John Duckworth returns to New York City after his sister Faith's suicide, he must identify the mutilated corpse of another woman, this one brutally murdered in her Upper East Side apartment. Cynical by nature, romantic at heart, John recalls his relationships with both deceased: Faith, the lovely but emotionally fragile wife of a successful businessman, and Jasmine Jones, aka Wendy Pulski, aka Madeline James, the panther-like beauty who seduces John and convinces Faith to trust her—all the better to destroy their lives. Faith, John and Jasmine meet at the Inn at the Edge, a Newport hotel Faith is restoring with her friend, Sari. Jasmine arrives looking like their dream guest, but that dream turns to nightmare as she settles in. Novelist-screenwriter Nagy (A House in the Hamptons, etc.) fills her story with lively characters (innocent young Pebble, wise old Grandma O, tough detective Daisy Mae Decker) and clever dialogue ("Andy's idea of emotional distress is... whimpering... during The Lion King"), but it is the series of social sketches (the Upper West Side psychologist vs. the East Side psychologist, the Newport WASPs vs. the poor Irish, the Las Vegas showgirl vs. Manhattan socialite) that give the novel its flair. Halfway through, Nagy sets satire aside to propel her plot to a climax, which despite many twists and revelations proves neither as exciting nor as convincing as her New York and New England tableaux. By that time, however, the reader is too engrossed to put the book down and is dragged along to a Hollywood finale. (June)

Reviewed on: 05/21/2001
Release date: 06/01/2001
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