Picks and Pans Review: The Speed Queen

updated 05/05/1997 AT 01:00 AM EDT

originally published 05/05/1997 AT 01:00 AM EDT

by Stewart O'Nan

Page-Turner of the Week

HOURS AWAY FROM EXECUTION BY THE state of Oklahoma, Marjorie Standiford is dictating her memoirs. Not to salve her conscience, you understand; Marjorie, whose robbery spree with her husband, Lamont, and her lover, Natalie, splattered a trail of blood across the Southwest, steadfastly maintains that she didn't kill anybody. No, to assure her young son's future, the woman called the Speed Queen—for both her drug and driving style—is fulfilling her deal with the big-time writer who has paid handsomely for her story.

It's worth every penny. Liberally jazzed with humor, gallows and otherwise, Marjorie's account combines the manic rush of Natural Born Killers with the dreamy lyricism of Badlands. A dexterous blend of suspense and social commentary, Speed Queen offers an unflinching take on the land of fast food and fast cars, where everyone is juiced to the max—and no one is really going anywhere. (Doubleday, $21.95)

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