May 23, 1988 12:00 PM

by Jackie Collins

Everybody in Collins’ 13th novel (among her earlier works are Hollywood Wives and Lucky) is obsessed. They are obsessed with pop music stardom. They are obsessed with hating record mogul Marcus Citroen. They are obsessed with power. Mostly however they are obsessed with finding different ways to refer to women’s breasts. Various ladies’ appendages are described thusly: “the best pair of bazoombas in captivity,” “her two greatest assets,” “a lovely firm pair of bristols,” “huge knockers,” “small buds,” “knockers to send a man to heaven and back,” “an enormous bosom,” “zoomer tits,” “big balloons,” “tits you could balance a mug of beer on,” “thingies,” “outsize attributes” and “they’re probably silicone.” Otherwise the plot traces the lives of three performers. Kris Phoenix is an English rock singer who sleeps around a lot but has a heart of gold (as well as, to judge from the pace of his sexual activity, an outsize attribute of stainless steel). Bobby Mondella is a black soul singer who has crossed over to mainstream popularity but went blind when somebody threw him off a hotel balcony in Rio. Rafealla is a pop jazz singer with lousy taste in men. She marries one guy who turns out to be gay and falls for another who reveals that he is married—to a woman he wed when she was 57 and he was 18. The three singers, the smarmy Citroen, the equally smarmy Mrs. Citroen and a few thousand other characters are all tunneled toward a climax that involves a benefit concert. There, it is clear, a caper is going to take place. This is clear because prowling around is Maxwell Sicily, son of a Miami mob boss. (Of his school days, he recalls, “Decent kids stayed away from him, while the scum couldn’t do enough favors. He grew up confused.”) While Collins tries to give her characters some substance, not much rings true. Trying to give Mondella a black dialect, she has him talk about “the hard work I’ve bin doin’,” raising questions about whether her spelling or his pronunciation is at issue. And Collins’ prose suggests that she learned to write by studying the English instructions that come with Japanese cameras: Rafealla thinks, “She had no desire to marry some rich titled man and live in luxury, giving great charity.” This leaves a novel that is funny in its way and hardly offensive. It’s hardly interesting either, except maybe to those who share Rafealla’s batty romantic notions. In mid-enthrallment, she takes time out to think, “Seeing him made her happy and sad, crazy and calm. She was almost in love with a man she’d hardly spoken to. Oh, God! It could never work out. They came from two different worlds. And yet …”(Simon and Schuster, $19.95)

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