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Johnson (13 Little Blue Envelopes) packs her latest with all the elements of a winning novel-a dramatic setting, offbeat characters, witty dialogue-but she leaves out the tension. Scarlett's family operates and lives in a rundown art deco hotel in Manhattan. It is nearly empty when strange, rich Amy checks in for the summer. Claiming to want to write a book about her life, she hires an ambivalent Scarlett as her assistant. But Scarlett's job changes when Amy decides instead to sponsor a production of Hamlet in which Scarlett's brother is acting. Soon Scarlett is clearing a rehearsal space, kissing her brother's co-star-and even helping Amy pull off an elaborate revenge scheme on a actress she thinks once wronged her. Between the play, the revenge, Scarlett's romance, the hotel and family messiness (Scarlett's sister's cancer treatments have drained the family's finances), the book lacks focus. Readers will also find some scenes hard to believe, such as the final face-off between Amy and her foe in which all is neatly resolved. Ages 12-up. (May)Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.