cover image Long, Lean, and Lethal

Long, Lean, and Lethal

Heather Graham. New American Library, $6.99 (386pp) ISBN 978-0-451-40915-7

Graham's latest romantic suspense novel is the first of a trilogy set in the fantasy-drenched world of TV soap operas. When Hollywood legend Abby Sawyer develops severe Parkinson's disease, her daughter, soap star Jennifer Connolly, moves into the historic but slightly creepy Granger House to be by her side. What Jennifer doesn't know is that Abby's stepson, actor Conar Markham--a longtime thorn in Jennifer's side--is not only going to be starring opposite her on the soap but is living in Granger House as well. Abby has secretly contrived Conar's new role to make it possible for him to watch over Jennifer, whom Abby is convinced is in danger from a threatening stalker. Naturally, Conar and Jennifer's sudden togetherness generates both conflict and sexual tension. When the soap's producers stage a Hitchcockian shower scene that eerily mimics a rash of real serial killings, matters come to a head. Graham (Tall, Dark, and Deadly) cleverly brings together classic elements of B-movie suspense (from secret stairways to screams in the night) with an appealing, if not entirely accurate, look behind the Hollywood set. The mystery plot, however, lacks both cohesiveness and tension--despite Abby's oft-repeated worries, Jennifer is never directly in peril until very late in the book--and there's little true conflict in the romance, leaving it rather flat as well. (June)