Books: The Royal Game

THE CHESS PLAYERS (533 pp.) — Frances Parkinson Keyes — Farrar, Straus & Cudahy ($4.95).

The ultimate in barbiturate prose is the point at which tedium becomes coma, and perennially bestselling Author Keyes may have reached this point in The Chess Players. Her great sedative skill can be appreciated only when it is understood that her material, as such, is fascinating. The novel is set in New Orleans and Paris in the 1850s and '60s, contains an amorous princess, various spies and diplomats, a slave auctioneer, lovely Creole maidens, and splendidly uniformed military personnel. The hero is a brilliant, brooding fellow who...

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