Privileged Lives

(Critical Survey of Contemporary Fiction)

Beatrice “Babe” Devens is rich, beautiful, a respected fashion designer--and has lain in a coma for the last seven years. She wakes to find that her world--of family, friends, and New York fashion--has changed, not necessarily for the better. She learns that her beloved husband, Scottie, was tried for the attempted murder that left her in a comatose state. Scottie was acquitted and has remarried, but their daughter, Cordelia, now a grown-up stranger, still bears the emotional scars of the ordeal. Slowly, Babe begins to reconstruct her life.

Across town, a young man is found brutally murdered in an empty cooperative apartment. The case falls to Detective Vince Cardozo, the same man who investigated the Babe Devens case seven years before. He follows the trail of suspects and subterfuge, a course that leads him through an intricate web of deceit and decadence among the Big Apple’s jet set and eventually to Babe Devens herself.

Babe and Cardozo find that they not only share common ground but a mutual attraction as well. Cardozo helps Babe adjust to her new life while asking her help in his quest to see who is really pulling the strings in what his superiors are pressuring him to consider an open-and-shut case. Cardozo soon realizes that his quest for the truth endangers himself, Babe, and all that they both love, including each other.

Novelist Edward Stewart has written what could be the high-class shocker of the year. His adept characterizations, swift-moving plot, crisp prose, and witty dialogue make PRIVILEGED LIVES an especially good read. Although the book’s cover and title hint at Judith Krantz territory, Stewart is more in a class with Lawrence Sanders. His ability to combine good storytelling with urgent human issues--such as the AIDS crisis and urban decay--make PRIVILEGED LIVES a good bet for best-sellerdom.