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IN BRIEF

Fiction

August 06, 1995|ERIKA TAYLOR

THE MAGNATES by Susan Crosland. (Random House: $21; 334 pp.) Clandestine sex, political intrigue, and ruthless business tactics are the well worn wheels driving Susan Crosland's third novel. Zoe Hare is a young, ambitious, Washington journalist whose work and beauty capture the attention of rival newspaper owners Miles Brewster and Gerald Scrope. Long buried secrets come to the surface as Brewster, who is cold, brooding, but ultimately honorable, fights the thuggish, amoral Scrope for control of the newspaper industry, and, as it turns out, the stability of three governments.

Crosland's writing is serviceable, although her characters and their sexual exploits wear a little thin. It might be refreshing to see just one marriage where both partners stay in their own beds instead of having to drum up sympathy for a bunch of shallow, obscenely wealthy, movers and shakers who fall prey, again and again, to greed and lust.

Still, "The Magnates" has some nice plot twists, and if one doesn't take it too much to heart, Crosland's style can be fun. "She saw the contours of his face had the well fed beefiness of a man who can indulge himself and does . . . Though clean shaven, the heavy jaws had a darkish hue. She'd always harbored a taste for rough trade."

"The Magnates" has only two types of people: predators and prey. Love is based on very little. Let's hope a kinder reality exists outside the beach which is where this novel will most likely be read.

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