cover image The Best Revenge: A Novel of Broadway

The Best Revenge: A Novel of Broadway

Sol Stein. Random House (NY), $20 (0pp) ISBN 978-0-679-40231-2

Former publisher and novelist Stein has returned to fiction with a cracklingly cynical tale of the manipulations behind the mounting of what is ultimately a hit Broadway play--in verse, yet. Successful producer Ben Riller has the urge to put on what may be a doubtful prospect because of long-dormant idealism. His usual backers won't cough up, he's running out of money and in desperation goes to an old Italian crony of his father's to ask a favor; the favor turns out to be the old man's son, Nick Manucci, a Great White among loan sharks whose terms curdle Riller's blood. But perhaps if he can find something on Nick. . . . Stein's ear for the deadpan dialogue of men who think only in terms of money is exact, his plot is nicely turned, with several surprise endings, and the Broadway detail is solid: even Meryl Streep gets a believable walk-on role. The book's only real problems, not disastrous, are Stein's habits of seeing the scenes from constantly differing points of view, which interrupts the narrative flow, and introducing Riller's dead father at odd moments, which is less cute than confusing. Otherwise, a slick, hard-boiled entertainment. (July)