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    Review of THEIR WILDEST DREAMS by Peter Abrahams (see his website)

    Ballantine Books, August 2003

    Mackie Larkin hits bottom when she gets a dunning letter from the IRS. Her ex-husband left one too many time-bombs for her to find. She's about to lose everything when a friend suggests she work as an exotic dancer--making big money in tips. There she meets a ruthless Russian entrepreneur who is set to make himself rich and to help along everyone who can help him. Mackie seems like she can help him, but even Mackie has her limits--or at least a high price.

    Author Nicholas Loeb is stuck. His book is going nowhere, his publisher is suddenly unwilling to talk about a new contract, and Hollywood isn't returning calls. When he gets an unfriendly review on, he reaches his limit--sending a nasty-gram to the reviewer. The reviewer may be a little bit of a nut, but she knows her stuff--and lets Nicholas know where he's got it wrong. The only solution, she tells him, is to add more authenticity--and her ex-husband and cop is the person to help him. Nicholas finds himself in New Mexico trailing along with a border cop--right next to the dance club where Mackie is working.

    All of a sudden, Nicholas is getting ideas and Mackie has solved her financial problems. Everything looks up. Looks up, that is, until Mackie's daughter gets caught up in a bank robbery scam--a plan that goes horribly wrong. All of a sudden, all of them are in a fight for their lives.

    Author Peter Abrahams walks a balance between mystery and an ironic commentary on mystery. Having an author as a protagonist lets him angst about writing (he gets these details dead-on) and use language a little more lofty than is usual in a mystery. After a slow first twenty pages, Abrahams cranks in, writing an engaging story with intriguing characters. I found the ending, however, to be contrived and too full of coincidences. For me, at least, Nicholas's telling himself that this would never work in fiction doesn't work. Abrahams is so busy poking fun at his subject that he ends up poking himself in the eye.

    The strength of the middle of the book and the engaging characters make THEIR WILDEST DREAMS worth reading, but I coudn't help feeling a little disapointment that Abrahams copped out at the end.

    Two Stars

    Reviewed /01/03

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