Imagine an episode of “Behind the Music” about the music industry. A typical episode full of adulterous sex, drugs (cocaine and tons of pot), and music occasionally thrown in.

It would probably look a lot like how Bill Flanagan sends up the industry in his new novel “A&ampR.” As senior vice president of VH1, Flanagan has a wealth of experience behind the scenes. Many of the scenes he describes could be happening right at this moment for all the typical music listener knows.

What every good work needs is a troubled hero. In this case it is Jim Cantone, the idealistic music executive. Cantone is the head of “artists and repertoire” (the titular music division), in charge of signing and nurturing new breakthrough acts at Feast Records. But when he is offered the A&ampR job at Wild Bill DeGaul”s WorldWide Records, he can”t refuse. He manages to woo his pet project, Jerusalem, to WorldWide as well, making him an industry darling.

But of course Cantone can”t leave for a huge corporation without selling out a bit, despite being only 30. He has to face the hard realities of the business. He can”t let his childhood hero make a CD nobody will buy. He slowly comes to realize his boss, Jim “J.B.” Booth, the actual power behind WorldWide, is trying to force a coup against DeGaul. All is not well at the company.

Little things keep happening to make Cantone”s job even more frustrating. Zoey Pavlov, a talent scout, resents him for scooping Jerusalem. She tries to undermine him, with little success. Fights between Nashville and New York cause complications for potential country-pop crossover Cokie Shea. And of course Jerusalem, as cohesive and thoughtful as they are, encounter tragedy.

The characters most enjoyable to follow are the Machiavellian Booth convinced he is taking over for the good of the company, and rationalizes that sleeping with Cokie is OK since his marriage is essentially dead and DeGaul, a daredevil ganja-smoking executive who built his company from nothing and simply lets his trusted number-two man do the dirty work. The slowly developing struggle between the two is classic power politics in action.

Despite only having three non-fiction books to his credit, Flanagan succeeds in his first fiction. Numerous music insiders have raved at the book, enjoying the inside jokes. While the average reader may not be able to pick up on them, it will be an enjoyable read for most any reader. By letting the often-catty characters run the show, Flanagan can let the reader laugh at the goings-on.

Many fans of music would rather not read about some big diva delaying her Christmas CD because she is consumed by her crack habit, but they would be missing one truly funny send-up of the executives who control radio and pop music if they missed this book.

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