Picks and Pans Review: Malibu

updated 08/13/1990 AT 01:00 AM EDT

originally published 08/13/1990 AT 01:00 AM EDT

by Pat Booth

Some people believe the only equipment needed to write a novel is a word processor. Lane and Andrews are apparently two such creatures, and thus many questions come to mind while one is reading this novel: How many more pages until it's over? Did the authors consider reading a book or two before writing one? And why did it take two people to write a book this bad?

The novel centers on powerful B.J. McClintock (you know he's powerful: He's known by his initials), head of MCM Studios. Despite chiseled features and "silver hair shining like a beacon of light" and a wife of 25 years who still desires him, he has mondo problems. He has a big outfit to run, and his 17-year-old mistress has hit town.

There are so many demands on B.J.'s time—among them blackmailing an eminent plastic surgeon and trying to keep his wife from learning about his mistress—that making movies becomes incidental. Still, every recognizable Hollywood type is here: the screen siren who's the good time had by all, the neglected wife of the movie mogul, the wayward children of the movie mogul, the movie mogul's ambitious assistant. To call these cardboard characters is to do a great injustice to cardboard.

Lane and Andrews rely on names—Los Angeles places (Hotel Bel Air, Rodeo Drive), clothing designers (Krizia, Valentino), celebrities (Elizabeth Taylor, Bette Midler)—to give the novel verisimilitude. It doesn't work; nor does the writing, which is execrable enough to make one wonder if perhaps the whole novel is a misprint. But Malibu 90265 is a better book than Malibu—in the sense that it's shorter. The clichés and the foolishness are piled high in Malibu, a vulgarity by the author of Palm Beach.

The cast includes Pat Parker, a brilliant, beautiful celeb photographer, who, the reader is often reminded, has one terrific tush. Heartbroken by the death of her friend Robert Mapplethorpe (Booth has no shame) and convinced that her work is meaningless, Pat heads for Malibu and guidance from iconoclastic photographer-environmentalist Ben Alabama. There she finds fulfillment in a contract with a hot, hip new magazine.

There, too, she finds love with Tony Valentino, a handsome, brilliant, idealistic young actor with "liquid charisma" (as opposed, presumably, to charisma in tablet form). But the course of true love is just one potboiler pothole after another.

Billionaire Richard Latham, who is also said to have liquid charisma, has plans that could thwart the young lovers. Of course, who could blame him for resenting Pat and Tony. Those two have such great sex: "Beneath her skirt she was burning. Beneath his jeans, he was on fire." That's how this book goes for page after page. Call it a Malibu-boo. (Malibu 90265: Morrow, $18.95; Malibu: Crown, $19.95)

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