cover image Wasted: The Preppie Murder

Wasted: The Preppie Murder

Linda Wolfe. Simon & Schuster, $19.45 (0pp) ISBN 978-0-671-64184-9

Wolfe draws resonant lessons from the so-called ``preppy murder case'' in which Robert Chambers strangled Jennifer Levin in New York's Central Park in 1986 and claimed that her death was accidental. Chambers's parents, as portrayed here, continually made excuses for their teenage son's longtime drug abuse, stealing and other antisocial activities; he tried cocaine, LSD, Ecstasy and loved wild parties. Through intertwined accounts of the adolescences of Chambers and Levin we meet a banal generation of drifting youth nurtured on TV, movies and drugs. Wolfe's ( Private Practices ) reconstruction of the Chambers-Levin romance, the murder and the widely publicized trial is adroitly done, with a plethora of police procedural details. If, unfortunately, she sometimes indulges in shoddy effects--``Phyllis knew that girls sucked up to her son''--and is a touch gossipy, her depiction of a privileged, indulged milieu is at once specific and generic, and thoroughly disturbing. Photos. Literary Guild featured alternate; author tour. (Sept.)