KILLING MONICA

By Candace Bushnell. (Grand Central Publishing, 311 pages, $27.)

"Sex and the City" author Candace Bushnell takes on fame, friendship, debauchery, divorce, the movie industry, family ties and more in the delightfully escapist "Killing Monica."

New York City writer Pandemonia James Wallis (aka P.J., aka Pandy) has created a monster: her impossibly glamorous character Monica, who's a role model all over the world, thanks to Pandy's four novels and the four movies made from them. Pandy wants to end the Monica mania for good. She would rather write historical fiction about her ancestor Lady Wallis Wallis, plus she's estranged from her wild former best friend, actress SondraBeth Schnowzer, who plays Monica.

But Pandy is facing demands from her publisher and financial distress, thanks to her split from spendthrift bad-boy chef Jonny Balaga. Despite the raucous support of her fun-loving girlfriends, things are looking grim. With the help of her agent, Pandy decamps to her family's home in Connecticut, where a lightning strike provides her the unlikely opportunity to try to solve her problems — in madcap fashion.

Along the way there are saucy flashbacks, some soul searching and plots of delicious revenge. Bushnell skewers celebrity, marriage and social media and offers insights on work, aging and self-worth. Plus there's a sweet last-minute twist. Fans of her witty, manic style won't be disappointed.

MARCI SCHMITT,

Multiplatform editor