This creepy, compelling but slightly disappointing thriller centers on a slippery-as-mercury con artist able to assume any hue necessary for cashmere-comfortable survival. This Impersonator, called Barrett or Beau, is "whatever you want him to be," one character observes.
Deftly written and often carrying a keen urgency, The Impersonator provides two terrific jolts early on but doesn't quite manage to deliver on its promise. The scenarios become repetitive and predictable, and the psychology dispensed to explain Barrett's pathology is a bit too dime store. Nonetheless, Mike Nichols has bought the novel. Maybe he can give the movie the crackling finish the book fails to deliver. (Doubleday, $20)