Picks and Pans Review: Charade

updated 07/04/1994 AT 01:00 AM EDT

originally published 07/04/1994 AT 01:00 AM EDT

by Sandra Brown

Cat Delaney is a soap star whose own life has the dramatic elements of a TV movie of the week. Orphaned at 8 and afflicted with a damaged heart, she bounces around foster homes until she graduates from high school and heads to Hollywood. There she lands a part in a floor-wax commercial that leads to a part on a soap opera.

As Brown's suspense tale opens, Cat is awakened in the intensive care unit at a Los Angeles hospital where she has been waiting for a heart transplant and told that a donor has been found. Flash to three consecutive scenes where a trio of unrelated victims meet untimely deaths and become viable organ donors. Does Cat receive the heart of the deeply religious woman who is bludgeoned to death by her enraged husband when he catches her in bed with another man? The yuppie father-to-be who is killed in a highway pile-up en route to his child's birth? Or the rough biker couple who slam into a cattle truck during a high-speed chase? Maybe it's lime for a commercial break and a visit to the fridge.

Cat's change of heart is more than literal. She leaves Hollywood, settles in San Antonio, becomes a do-good talk show host and gets involved with an attractive man. There is only one nuisance: Patients who received donor hearts on the day of Cat's own successful surgery are having fatal "accidents." It seems a stalker wants a certain donor's heart stopped, and Cat fears she may be next on his list.

And so it goes in this typical Brown page-turner. Charade is the Texas author's 14th best-seller. There are lots of glamorous parties, beautiful people and steamy sex. Brown has once again hit her mark and created a compelling heroine who is feisty yet feminine. (Warner, $21.95)

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