Picks and Pans Review: Savages

updated 09/21/1987 AT 01:00 AM EDT

originally published 09/21/1987 AT 01:00 AM EDT

by Shirley Conran

And the Jacqueline Susann Memorial Bad Taste Award for the mid-1980s goes to...Shirley Conran! With Judith Krantz (I'll Take Manhattan) and Jackie Collins (Hollywood Husbands) constantly blasting away, it was a narrow squeak, but Savages is absolutely, chillingly rotten. Along with the relentless sex tease (blended with all the occasions where gorgeous wives tell their husbands, sorry, but that sort of thing musses my hair), a lot of fashion names are dropped. (Does Conran get a discount for plugging YSL?) Just about the only horror previously untapped in this kind of trash—are you ready?—cannibalism, rears its ugly head. But if you are Silvana, Annie, Carey, Patty or Suzy, lost at sea for more than a week and simply starving with no pate in sight, what else can a poor girl do? The five ladies find themselves in this predicament because they are wives of executives of the Nexus corporation, with home offices in Pittsburgh. Silvana's husband, who runs the international conglomerate with an iron fist, is going to name a successor while they are all at a meeting on a wild New Guinea island. The company also plans to sign contracts to continue its exploitation of the island's natural resources. The cruel natives love to hurt tourists by gunning them in the groin. To call these characters two-dimensional would be giving them too much credit. They haven't enough pizzazz to qualify for a comic strip. Conran, who had a big success with her first novel, Lace, is a truly terrible writer. She introduces character after character, describing their pasts in a most tedious fashion, and then stages events that seem irrational and random and often ludicrous. A TV miniseries is promised. Some lucky actress is going to be dismembered and chewed. Yes, Joan Collins, that's opportunity knocking. (Simon and Schuster, $19.95)

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