Thursday, May 28, 2015

Forgotten Books: The Plastic Nightmare by Richard Neely

The Plastic Nightmare

 based on the plastic nightmare

I've written before about Neely. He wrote non-series crime novels that pretty much covered the entire range of dark suspense. I mentioned that in the best of his novels the weapon of choice is not poison, bullets or garrote. He always preferred sexual betrayl.

Plastic is a good example. Using amnesia as the central device Dan Mariotte must reconstruct his life. Learning that the beautiful woman at his bedside all these months in the hospital--his wife--may have tried to kill him in a car accident is only the first of many surprises shared by Mariotte and the reader alike.

What gives the novel grit is Neely's take on the privileged class. He frequently wrote about very successful men (he was a very successful adverts man himself) and their women. The time was the Seventies. Private clubs, private planes, private lives. But for all the sparkle of their lives there was in Neely's people a despair that could only be assuaged (briefly) by sex. Preferably illicit sex. Betrayl sex. Men betrayed women and women betrayed men. It was Jackie Collins only for real.

Plastic is a snapshot of a certain period, the Seventies when the Fortune 500 dudes wore sideburns and faux hippie clothes and flashed the peace sign almost as often as they flashed their American Express Gold cards. Johnny Carson hipsters. The counter culture co-opted by the pigs.

The end is a stunner, which is why I can say little about the plot. Neely knew what he was doing and I'm glad to see his book back in print. Watching Nerely work is always a pleasure.

1 comment:

J F Norris said...

I've seen the movie and loved it. That ending is quite a nasty twist - never saw it coming. I've read THE SEXTON WOMEN by Neely which hits all the marks you mention in PLASTIC NIGHTMARE. Sex as escape, sex as a manipulation tool. I did buy a vintage copy of PLASTIC NIGHTMARE finally a while ago and I'll have to read it soon.