Picks and Pans Review: Baby, Would I Lie? a Romance of the Ozarks

updated 10/24/1994 AT 01:00 AM EDT

originally published 10/24/1994 AT 01:00 AM EDT

by Donald E. Westlake

When a master of the comic caper novel (Cops and Robbers) takes on Branson, Missouri's booming country music scene, the results should be high harmony. But this time Westlake's tale is off-key. The upcoming murder trial—and the stunning IRS bill—of beloved singer Ray Jones brings a crew from the salacious Weekly Galaxy tabloid and Sarah Joslyn, reporter for Trend, a New York City magazine, to Branson. Jones, Joslyn and the Galaxy get tangled in a hoedown of deception, dirty tricks and lies that concludes with a satisfying twist. Yet, despite the author's fine eye for detail (the patrons of Branson resemble "the faces in the crowd when a farm is auctioned off"), the machinations of his plot take place too far offstage—and off the page—to put this one on the charts with readers. (Mysterious Press, $19.95)

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