MYSTERY

Are Snakes Necessary?

Hard Case Crime/ Titan. Mar. 2020. 224p. ISBN 9781789091205. pap. SUSPENSE
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DEBUT In this first book by director De Palma (Blow Out; Carrie; Scarface) and former New York Times editor Lehman, parallel narratives follow caddish, smooth-talking Sen. Lee Rogers, as he runs for office and seduces his young and comely campaign videographer, Fanny Cours; and Las Vegas trophy wife Elizabeth DeCarlo Diamond, who longs to escape her life in a gilded cage. The senator and the trophy wife have someone in common: unscrupulous, conniving Barton Brock, Rogers’s fixer. Barton betrayed Elizabeth years ago, an act that landed him the job as Lee’s hatchet man. He’ll need all his dirty tricks and more when Fanny goes missing, and her mother, an earlier conquest of Lee’s, is determined to find her. The action culminates in Paris, high atop the Eiffel Tower, where a film crew is shooting a remake of Alfred Hitchcock’s Vertigo. You just know somebody’s going over that railing. Meanwhile, in a remote Maine cabin, Elizabeth is restless again. Her gig as an anonymous advice columnist to put-upon women isn’t enough, and she yearns to help her correspondents in a more proactive way.
VERDICT De Palma and Lehman stuff their book with cinematic tropes, unrealistic characters, and predictable plot twists, but somehow it’s still an overall exciting read.

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