cover image Raiders


Harold Robbins. Simon & Schuster, $23 (368pp) ISBN 978-0-671-87289-2

Thirty-four years after penning one of the bestselling novels of all time, Robbins has written a sequel-and while he hasn't matched the potboiling heat of The Carpetbaggers here, this is still his most entertaining novel in years. It's now 1951, and Jonas Cord (read: Howard Hughes) has turned his father's company into an empire. He has remarried his ex-wife, recognized the daughter he once rejected and only regrets not having a son to whom he can leave his legacy. While visiting Las Vegas, Jonas buys a casino and incurs the wrath of the mob by shutting down the casino's money-laundering operation. To avoid appearing at a Senate hearing on his business practices, the tycoon flees to Mexico, where he looks up an old girlfriend-and learns that he has a son by her, 25-year-old Jonas Enrique Raul Cord y Batista (aka Bart), who has inherited his father's looks, brains and thirst for power. Father and son team up to streamline the Cord empire, launch casinos in Las Vegas and Cuba (where they rely on Bart's family connection to the Cuban dictator) and vanquish greedy senators and a vengeful mafia. But sparks fly between them as they compete in the bedroom-and in the boardroom. Robbins can still make readers turn the pages through cliff-hanging chapters and a gallery of eccentric characters, but frequent interruptions with unnecessary background material and an extravagance of graphic sex scenes (many more than in the mother novel) make the narrative hard to follow. Readers will welcome historical cameos (from the likes of Jack and Bobby Kennedy, to Jimmy Hoffa and Jack Benny) and the reappearance of Cord's sidekick, Nevada Smith, in this lively follow-up to a commercial fiction classic. Simon & Schuster audio. (Jan.)