cover image A Tangled Web

A Tangled Web

Judith Michael. Simon & Schuster, $22.5 (476pp) ISBN 978-0-671-79879-6

When identical twins Stephanie Andersen and Sabrina Longworth decided to switch lives for a week-long lark in Deceptions, the 1982 novel by this pseudonymous husband and wife team, they created a string of thorny problems-not the least of which is this sequel, which is far less involving than its predecessor. Stephanie, posing as her antiques-dealing sister, purportedly was blown up aboard a yacht at the conclusion of Deceptions; but lo and behold, she survived, albeit with a convenient case of amnesia. Sabrina, meanwhile, has exchanged her posh London digs for Stephanie's comfortable suburban home in Evanston, Ill., complete with a comfortable suburban husband (college-professor variety) and two kids (Central Casting variety). And she has come to cherish her (former) brother-in-law. How the siblings meet and resolve their convoluted existences forms the nub of this novel, in a wearisome plot filled with smuggling, counterfeiting, murder and descriptions of scenery that would fill hours of National Geographic specials. Sabrina-as-Stephanie, in particular, is too good to be true, repeatedly counting her blessings and spouting aphorisms (""hatred is awfully heavy to carry around, like an overloaded backpack""). Though fans may relish these heroines' escapades, a surfeit of talk and a relative absence of action tangles this web to little effect. 300,000 first printing; Literary Guild and Doubleday Book Club main selection. (Nov.)