cover image The Master Stroke

The Master Stroke

Elizabeth Gage. Pocket Books, $21 (0pp) ISBN 978-0-671-74815-9

In this predictable and superficial tale of greed, passion, incest and revenge during the early days of computer technology, Gage ( A Glimpse of Stocking ) relies heavily on platitudes and little on believable characters. Soon after naive, beautiful Francie Bollinger begins to work for Magnus International, her first brilliant idea is stolen by her boss. A little wiser, she offers her second one, a plan to link the European divisions under one computer, to Jack Magnus, son of CEO Anton. She and Jack have a torrid affair and he asks her to marry him, but says they must keep their betrothal a secret. After the computer link is operational, however, Jack marries the girl his father has chosen for him and Francie is fired. Francie starts her own company and plots the Magnuses' destruction. Interspersed with Francie's story is that of Jack's sister, Julie, the black sheep of the Magnus family. Told in short sentences, Julie's and Francie's romances and explicitly described bedroom escapades are fare--often overheated--for sexually sophisticated adolescents. Literary Guild and Doub le day Book Club selection. (Sept.)