By People Staff
July 01, 1985 12:00 PM

by William Goldman

Goldman is the author of the charming novel The Princess Bride, the memoir Adventures in the Screen Trade and such memorable screenplays as Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, All the President’s Men and Marathon Man. With those credentials a certain standard of excellence ought to be expected. Why then would such a writer as Goldman produce this silly, vile concoction? The hero, Nick Escalante, lives in Las Vegas. He is a Vietnam veteran who does unsavory jobs for hire and dreams of being able to get $100,000 together so that he can afford to travel for five uninterrupted years. A childhood friend is mistreated by a mobster, and Nick helps her get revenge—setting off a series of violent events that are incredible in addition to being disgusting. A second plot has a former TV minister asking Nick to help him because he’s getting ransom notes from the kidnapper of a child he never had. The sex scenes in this novel are as ugly as the violent ones, and there are too many of both. Ethnic slurs are rampant and tasteless. Goldman relentlessly describes his characters by saying that they look like celebrities—people resemble Sly Stallone, Fred Astaire, Alan Alda, Ed Asner, Ricky Schroder and even Rhea (Cheers) Perlman. The hero never uses a gun, but he’s absolutely deadly with credit cards, boot heels and the gold jewelry he wears. It’s difficult to imagine that anyone could manage to extract pleasure from this sordid tale. (Warner, $15.50)