cover image Private Lies

Private Lies

Warren Adler. William Morrow & Company, $19.95 (308pp) ISBN 978-0-688-10120-6

Once again Adler ( War of the Roses ) focuses not on the redemptive power of love but on its capacity for destruction, in this case in the form of all-consuming sexual passion. When Ken Kramer and Carol Stein meet at a dinner arranged by their spouses, it has been 20 years since they ended their incendiary affair. Inexorably, the old erotic flame draws them together, but they are not the same people they once were. She, having failed as a professional ballerina, has married pompous Eliot Butterfield for his money; Eliot had hoped to become the next Hemingway but he's writing advertising copy instead. This is not, however, a story of lost dreams and new chances, for Ken and Carol are not the lone adulterers: antiseptic Maggie Kramer and Carol's formerly stodgy hubby have discovered orgasmic ecstasy in each other. Before the philandering foursome heads off on safari (from which only three will return) of stolen moments among famished crocodiles and stampeding elephants, this elegantly rollicking story loses some of its oomph. The black comedy lurches toward slapstick. Author tour. (Apr.)