Cheat and Charmer

Genre: Fiction; Author: Elizabeth Frank; Publisher: Random House

This fat, talky melodrama set in 1950s Hollywood has the flash and style of a Jacqueline Susann potboiler but with smarter writing and well-turned characters. Smart, likable Dinah Lasker — briefly a member of the Communist Party in her youth and now married to a successful screenwriter — agrees to inform on fellow travelers to save her husband’s career. Not that Jake Lasker deserves her devotion: He’s a selfish philanderer who can’t say no to a pastrami sandwich or a pretty starlet. Nor is Dinah repaid for her loyalty to her famously gorgeous sister Veevi (”a born predator with the conscience of a cat”), who moves in with Dinah and Jake following the failure of her own marriage, with predictably disastrous results. Imagine Cheat and Charmer as a juicy mid-’80s television movie starring Morgan Fairchild and Linda Evans.

Originally posted October 8 2004 — 12:00 AM EDT

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