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Picks and Pans Review: Where the Truth Lies

updated 07/28/2003 at 01:00 AM EDT

originally published 07/28/2003 01:00AM

By Rupert Holmes

Gather 'round, kiddies, and listen to your pal K. O'Connor. Devious and callow, the narrator of Holmes's first novel has everything you want in a '70s showbiz reporter. She also knows all about an unsolved murder in 1959, when the comedy team of womanizer Vince Collins and nebbish Lanny Morris (clearly modeled after Dean Martin and Jerry Lewis) found a woman's body in the bathtub of their hotel suite. Both men had airtight alibis, but soon afterward they split. K. agrees to write a book with the pair, and soon she is in over her head.

Holmes, a '70s character himself—blame him for the last No. 1 hit of the decade, "Escape (The Pina Colada Song)"—nicely recalls the era when health-minded folk had vermouth on the rocks for lunch. He is a gifted plotter as well, and though K. can be as irritating as polyester slacks, the story line is as refreshing as a you-know-what. (Random House, $24.95)

BOTTOM LINE: Pleasant escape

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