Picks and Pans Review: Exes

updated 02/19/1990 AT 01:00 AM EST

originally published 02/19/1990 AT 01:00 AM EST

by Dan Greenburg

Attention, ladies: Exes, which is about how a woman can get even with all the men who have rejected, exploited and misused her—by slitting their throats—is not a how-to volume. It is a novel. Do not try this at home.

Greenburg is best known for his humor books, such as How to Be a Jewish Mother and How to Avoid Love and Marriage, and for having been married to author-screenwriter Nora Ephron. But this police procedural moves swiftly, and Greenburg researched his way into being able to discuss all kinds of crime-solving techniques, including DNA fingerprinting, so there are diverting asides.

In the book's frequent sex scenes, Greenburg shows a tendency to lapse into the same sort of romance-novel ersatz eloquence that he has lampooned in the past: "He gratefully matched her ersatz rhythms, gripped her like a boogie board, and rode her wavelets till they became breakers, body-surfing in on them until they crashed to shore."

For sheer vindictiveness, though, it's hard to beat this novel's protagonist, Judy Wells, who has become a beauty and wealthy in her mid-30s. She also has an acute memory for the many transgressions of her former boyfriends, along with a sharp little blade with which she slices into their carotid arteries after she has tracked them down and seduced them.

The New York City homicide detective who is on the trail of the murderer is not always the brightest cop around or the most admirable one for that matter, but he seems basically good-hearted. And it's easy to discern the moral of this story: Men who go out with former women friends should do so only after checking their purses for potential murder weapons. (Houghton Mifflin, $19.95)

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