Picks and Pans Review: Resentment: a Comedy

updated 09/29/1997 AT 01:00 AM EDT

originally published 09/29/1997 AT 01:00 AM EDT

by Gary Indiana

If the Rodney King, Menendez Bros, and O.J. Simpson trials turned the L.A. legal system into a national joke, then Gary Indiana's latest novel is the gag's caustic punch line. Here the author offers up a pungent roman à clef in which the media and legal hotshots who profit from the criminality of celebrities—"none as glossy or well-groomed in close-ups as they appear from the distance"—are as morally deficient as the murderers.

Resentment tells the story of Felix and Carlos Martinez, two spoilt, narcissistic brats charged with the violent shotgun deaths of their parents. They mourn their loss by going on a shopping spree. Sound familiar? If you found that Menendez pair creepy in reality, this book is for you. They (and fictionalized versions of writer Dominick Dunne and attorney Leslie Abramson) are exquisitely satirized.

Populated by a host of Hollywood also-rans and wannabes aching to hitch a ride on the trial's gravy train, Resentment, though slow in some court scenes, is a brilliant glimpse beyond the news cameras and headlines. "Los Angeles and catastrophe...are eternal soulmates," Indiana writes, and it is the author's similarly provocative prose that ultimately elevates the book high above the cynicism of its characters. (Doubleday, $22.95)

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