cover image Rich Shall Inherit

Rich Shall Inherit

Elizabeth Adler. Delacorte Press, $18.95 (0pp) ISBN 978-0-385-29727-1

Adler's third novel ( Leonie ; Peach ), has the makings of a run-of-the-mill sex-and-Gucci jet-set frolic that condescends slightly to its readers (doesn't everyone know Geneva is in Switzerland?). Yet it rises above the genre to surprise, fascinate and eventually elicit a smile at its resolution. Mike Preston, an investigative journalist looking for a new subject, spots an ad in the L.A . Times seeking the heiress to the estate of Poppy Mallory (born in Santa Barbara, died in Italy). When he contacts the Swiss lawyer who placed the ad, advocate Lieber tells him that Poppy's estate is worth hundreds of millions, and agrees that if Mike finds the heiress, he can write a book about Poppy. The novel continues on two time lines. In the present, the various claimants, all somehow (but how?) linked with Poppy, gradually become aware of each other. Alternately, we learn that Poppy was seduced and abused, ran the most exclusive brothel in Paris, fell in love with a powerful Italian gangster, lost her son's love, died slightly gaga, very rich and utterly alone. But all is not cliche; here are scarlet herrings (men and women), genuine pathos, humor and inventiveness, and the rich actually reap the whirlwind while the riches are inherited by the meek and deserving. Troll Book Club main selection. (June)