Current Reads

South Beach, Not Hamptons

Former New York Observer columnist Michael M. Thomas does Miami.

Book Cover There was a time in the 1990s when turning to the New York Observer offered amusing and enlightening relief from the prevalence of so-called service journalism in the form of Michael M. Thomas and his column. (Thomas incisively pointed out that the new generation of journalists felt that reporting was having lunch with various publicists.) One way of identifying someone (writers not excepted) is by their enemies list, and it was to Thomas’s credit that he cheerfully indulged his disdain for blowhards and war criminals such as Barbara Walters, Henry Kissinger, Donald Trump, and Mort Zuckerman.

At some point Thomas absented himself from the pages of the Observer, but along the way he has written eight novels, including his new tome, Love & Money (Melville House). Having attended Yale, curated at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, and joined his father on Wall Street at Lehman Brothers, Thomas (Hanover Place) is apparently comfortable with the golden life of designer labels, high-end watering holes and destinations, and the machinations of the wealthy and powerful.

In Love & Money, we are presented with a wholesome Martha Stewart/Oprah-esque media star who comes under the sway of a paramour referred to as Donkey Dong (you can guess the point of that), a dalliance that jeopardizes the escalating value of her brand and the ambitions (financial and philanthropic) of her corporate patron and sponsor. The adulteress’s film director husband, whose last project tanked (for which he believe he’s been blacklisted by a vulgarian media mogul) discovers the adultery—as does another mysterious party—and in the midst of this, SeƱor Donkey Dong is murdered in Miami. Hubby then consults a divorce lawyer nicknamed the Jackal, and this spins into the meat and potatoes of this novel, a good deal of which is devoted to bringing the issue of no-fault divorce before the Supreme Court.

Thomas obviously well researched the laws and high court protocols, and he presents the case dramatically and with as much compulsion as can be mustered by the rarefied matters to which the Supremes attend. Love & Money is certainly entertaining (though I found the few sex scenes leaden), but I feel compelled to take great exception to one character’s claim (no doubt mouthing Thomas’s view) that crime story writer Laurence Shames does “Miami crazy” better than Carl Hiaasen.
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