Crow and Weasel.Barry Lopez

BOOK BRIEFS

illustrations.by Tom Pohort...

December 23, 1990|By JUDITH B. ROSENFELD Twilight at Mac's Place. Ross Thomas. Mysterious Press. 343 pages. $19.95.

Crow and Weasel.

Barry Lopez; illustrations.

by Tom Pohort. North Point.

64 pages. $16.95.

This book about the natural world, about the journey of survival from one end of the world to the other, and about the journey of growth from youth to adulthood and from innocence to knowledge will be enjoyed by children and adults. An excellent choice for a read-aloud to share with children of varying ages, it will be read over and over again.

There is a respect for the environment, for the native people -- for human endurance. The illustrations that extend the story line are fascinating and somewhat startling. When we read of the two young men who have received the permission and the blessing of the elders of the tribe to take a journey, we expect Weasel and Crow to be Indian braves. We turn the page to the first illustration of the pair, and we find they are a weasel and a crow dressed in authentic, fully decorated Indian clothing. The cover and title page illustrations should have prepared us for the animals, but the words of the text strongly convince us they are men. This confusion persists, and creates a conflict throughout the story. It is a conflict that does not mar the story, but challenges the reader to be alert, as the two friends learn from each other and from the hardships they encounter. By rights, Granville Haynes should have been living the life of Riley. Smart, handsome, well-mannered and -- thanks to a lucky lottery ticket -- quite rich, this recently retired LAPD homicide detective was planning on a career in movies. But when his father -- a former CIA operative whom Haynes describes as "a lapsed Quaker turned anarchist who hires out to prop up rotten governments" -- dies unexpectedly, the would-be actor finds himself dodging bullets in Washington.

Why? Because before he died, "Steady" Haynes had put out word that his memoirs were up for auction. A potential minefield of embarrassing disclosures, it's a book many are dying to read; trouble is, someone else is killing to keep the thing unread. As sole heir, Granville makes an obvious target, so he turns for help to a couple of family friends: saloon owners and sometime spies Cyril "Mac" McCorkle and Michael Padillo.

As usual with Ross Thomas, the plot is packed with high-level intrigue and devious dealing. But what makes "Mac's Place" such a delight isn't what happens so much as how it's told, from Mr. Thomas' artful, accurate descriptions of modern Washington the colorful yet credible characters he puts there. Fast-paced and funny, it's one of the rare thrillers that's worth a second reading.

@

J. D. CONSIDINE

Dazzle.

Judith Krantz.

Crown.

502 pages. $21.95.

Jazz Kilkullen is your typical trashy-novel heroine -- uniquely beautiful, fabulously successful and very rich. Her boyfriends include a devastatingly handsome Australian actor, a Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist and a shipping magnate turned cow boss. She's modest about her looks, was an overnight sensation as a photographer and doesn't care about money. Just a down-to-earth kind of gal.

"Dazzle" (named for the studio where Jazz works) is Judith Krantz's latest contribution to literature. It takes place in the seemingly incongruous worlds of commercial photography and ranching. Jazz, of course, moves effortlessly between them.

Not that everything is perfect for Jazz. Her movie-star mother died when Jazz was 8, she has two wicked half-sisters and a back-stabbing agent. A long-lost beau who broke her heart suddenly reappears. Someone spills red wine on her vintage 1930s dress. Such suffering no one human being should have to endure.

This, of course, is classic Judith Krantz. If you're a fan, don't miss this. But if you aren't, wait a while -- it is certain to be made into a TV movie.

KASEY JONES

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