Picks and Pans Review: The List

updated 03/03/1997 AT 01:00 AM EST

originally published 03/03/1997 AT 01:00 AM EST

by Steve Martini

Former lawyer Martini has barnstormed the bestseller lists in the past few years writing taut—and camera-ready—legal thrillers like The Judge and Undue Influence. In his sixth novel, he takes on what he sees as the increasingly superficial publishing industry.

The novel's heroine, Abby Chandlis, is a 40ish Seattle lawyer turned novelist who believes the only way to get her latest book the recognition—and money—it deserves is by pretending it was written by a photogenic male. She may be right. When she hires dashing ex-Marine Jack Jermaine to pose as the author, the book rings up a multi-million dollar advance and film deal—and first appears on The New York Times bestseller list at No. 4. (Hence the title.) But when her home is trashed and a friend is mysteriously murdered, Abby begins to wonder if there's a price to her charade.

Martini keeps the reader hooked with swift pacing and multiple plot twists. The irony of course is that he has written just the kind of commercial pulp he faults publishers for pursuing. His own rugged good looks—plus a sizable marketing budget—will no doubt land The List on the List. (Putnam, $24.95)

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