Review

Bait And Switch

by Larry Brooks



Mass market paperbacks --- the ones that you find on the revolving
display at the drugstore, or on displays by the hundreds at your
local big box department store --- lend themselves for impulse
buying. Got something long and boring on the horizon, like a plane
ride, afternoon at the beach, or court-ordered marriage counseling?
Grab a paperback on your way to the chip aisle. Who can resist a
paperback? The price of admission is relatively low, so if the book
turns out to be a dud, you haven't invested much; they don't take
up a lot of room; and they can be held with one hand and, if you're
practiced and/or dexterous enough, you can turn the page with your
thumb. And, once in a while, you take a chance and find a treasure,
like BAIT AND SWITCH by Larry Brooks.


The opening gambit of BAIT AND SWITCH would be only mildly
interesting in the hands of a writer with lesser ability than
Brooks. Wolfgang Schmitt is a former model currently stuck in an
advertising job that he has come by degrees to abhor, and he is
still reeling from the abrupt end of the relationship with the love
of his life. It is ironic that he is also a part-time relationship
expert, being the author of a monthly column on the subject for a
women's magazine.


Nelson Scott is a self-made millionaire who can buy anything except
his personal freedom. His wife, Kelly, holds the keys to that
kingdom and is set to make him pay heavily. Scott's only hope is a
condition of his prenuptial agreement that will enable him to
escape the matrimonial bonds with his considerable fortune more or
less intact. For that to happen, however, Kelly has to cohabit with
another man for 30 days. It doesn't look like that's going to
happen. Scott's plan, therefore, is to have Schmitt seduce Kelly.
Given that Schmitt is an expert on relationships, this should be a
piece of cake, especially with Scott's ability to manufacture a new
identity for Schmitt right down to the last nuance. Schmitt, in
return for his time and trouble, gets to play with lots of new
luxury toys and receives a significant amount of money. Of course,
wooing and seducing a beautiful woman is nothing to sneeze at
either. Schmitt sets to work --- that term is applied loosely here
--- and appears to be well on his way to accomplishing his
mission.


BAIT AND SWITCH would be a great book if it was only a subtle
reworking of INDECENT PROPOSAL. But it's much more than that.
Brooks, a little over a third of the way through, begins dropping
hints that there may be much more involved than divorce settlement
machinations. And, indeed, what seems to be a fairly
straightforward storyline takes some curves and turns that leave
you smiling, shaking your head in wonder, and, most importantly,
reading. For a while Schmitt thinks that he is the violinist to
Kelly's Stradivarius; he is, in fact, only the bow. Schmitt is
getting played, big time. But he's not the only one.


BAIT AND SWITCH has a complex plot, but Brooks is such a masterful
writer that it doesn't seem so involved. Brooks is in no hurry
here; he takes his time guiding the reader through a few
labyrinths, but does so with a sure-footed assurance that never
permits the plot to drag or droop. Surprises abound, practically to
the last page, which contains a surprisingly satisfying ending and
a tantalizing promise of more to come. I, for one, will be
waiting.


   










Reviewed by Joe Hartlaub on December 22, 2010

Bait And Switch
by Larry Brooks

  • Publication Date: July 6, 2004
  • Genres: Fiction, Suspense
  • Paperback: 400 pages
  • Publisher: Signet
  • ISBN-10: 0451212479
  • ISBN-13: 9780451212474