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Fiction

November 22, 1987|Tom Nolan

THE BOOZER CHALLENGE by Charles Gill (E. P. Dutton: $18.95; 288 pp.).

The fabulously wealthy Henry Quinn Boozer, "the Mustard King," challenges each of his four grown children to earn $100,000 and compete for the family estate. Such is the premise that inspires what fun there is in this disappointing comic novel. Daughter Emily gets her 100K ("after taxes") for a supporting role in her first Hollywood film (as believable a development as any that precede or follow). Son Robert goes for the gold as a cabaret pianist. Daughter Sally turns her hand to painting. Boo Boozer, a Paul Bunyan kinda guy, becomes the greatest baseball player since Babe Ruth. The children, their father and various supporting players are drawn with cartoon strokes, and for the most part their capers are as stale as yesterday's beer. Towards the end of the book, things take a more serious tone, as the author seems to solicit for his Boozers a sort of respect they have done little to deserve.

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