cover image Impersonal Attractions

Impersonal Attractions

Sarah Shankman. St. Martin's Press, $14.95 (262pp) ISBN 978-0-312-40997-5

Shankman's first novel is a mass of incongruities that may appeal to readers with steely stomachs and a vast tolerance for silly heroines. The plot concerns an unfrocked KKKlansman who mutilates, murders, then rapes women in San Francisco. Annie Tannenbaum and her best friend discuss schemes to snare the beast but they have other major interests. Both are supposedly foxy, 30-ish writers. Sarah is a crime reporter for a local paper; Annie collects data from personal ads for her literary debut, Meeting Cute. Together, they spend quantities of time in their search for dream lovers or in gourmandizing and occasional sex. Numbing trivia about food, the women's taste in clothes and home furnishings, the city's funky diversions, etc., are interspersed with grim details of the fiend's atrocities. In the crisis, irrelevant overwriting also deadens suspense. If the author had gone all out for campy effects, she would have been more successful. November 20