cover image Double Delight

Double Delight

Rosamond Smith / Author Dutton Books $23.95 (336p) ISBN 978-0-

For the first time in her career, Oates is identified on the cover of this seventh novel of psychological suspense as the name behind the nom de plume. Her dark protagonist also has a double life. The exotic beauty Starr Bright seduces hooligans and gamblers, only to murder them brutally when they succumb. Starr, a.k.a. Rose of Sharon Donner, is the daughter of a fundamentalist preacher and fraternal twin to Lily of the Valley, whom she hasn't seen for 15 years. The two are opposites; while siren Starr prowls the Vegas strip and carves up men for kicks, genteel Lily Merrick teaches pottery classes and tends her family in Western New York. When Sharon wheedles her way back into Lily's storybook life, ""Starr"" is making tabloid headlines as a serial killer on the lam. Lily, ignorant of her sister's double identity, is alarmed by how sick and vulnerable her long-lost twin appears and so agrees to take her in. Sharon's real reason for returning to her hometown soon reveals itself: she's out to avenge the now-grown high school boys who gang-raped her when she was 15. Nobody walks on the dark side with a more menacing gait than Oates/Smith (Lives of the Twins), but the stock theme of good twin/bad twin has perhaps been taken for one too many strolls. Creepy biblical cant and schizophrenic episodes run like shivers through her prose, but somehow do not save the plot from being just a bit ho-hum. Agent, John Hawkins Literary Agency. (Mar.)