cover image The Stallion

The Stallion

Harold Robbins. Simon & Schuster, $22.5 (0pp) ISBN 978-0-684-81067-6

Twenty-five years ago, The Betsy, Robbins's bestselling novel about the auto industry, marked the beginning of the author's glory years as the king of commercial fiction. After the success of such titles as The Lonely Lady and Dreams Die First, a subsequent string of tired potboilers (The Piranhas, etc.) saw Robbins's sales skid. Now, in an energetic attempt to reverse that trend, the author has begun to write sequels to his best-known books: first The Raiders, which followed up The Carpetbaggers, and now this robust son of The Betsy, which mimics all the personal vendettas, steamy sex and complex plotting--as well as cardboard characters--of the original. It's 1972, and tyrannical auto tycoon Loren Hardeman has just fired the brilliant Italian-American racecar driver and auto designer, Angelo Perino, despite the fact that Angelo saved the company from being taken over by Hardeman's sinister grandson, Loren III. In revenge for Angelo's interference, Loren III has had the man beaten almost to death by thugs. Now the recuperating Angelo marries the bisexual Cindy, a test driver-turned-art dealer, and vows to even the score by taking the business away from the ruthless Hardemans. The international art world, the Japanese impact on the auto industry and a blood feud provide a fascinating global web of subplots in bedchambers and boardrooms as Robbins spins his lascivious, melodramatic tale. While this novel may not be the powerhouse The Betsy was, it has wheels and is a worthy successor. Doubleday Book Club alternate selection. (Feb.)