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The Midnight Partner

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According to a recent American sex survey, we’ve become a nation of fairly tame monogamists. In several new erotic novels, however, promiscuity still rules — though it makes men crazy and drives women to self-abasement and suicide. Just like the Puritans said.

The Midnight Partner, by Bart Davis, has no pretensions to being anything other than a neat suburban thriller — sort of a Compromising Positions dressed up in sleek black leather.

Phillie Liebowitz, 43, is a faithful Long Island husband. A good father. ”Just an average man trying to succeed.” But one summer evening, his screenwriting partner, Jack Murphy, takes a header off a roof into an empty swimming pool. Or maybe he was pushed. That, at least, is what Phillie comes to believe, and since he embraces a Sam Spade code of professional ethics (when your partner is murdered, you do something about it), he sets out to find the killer. Along the way, he discovers that philanderin’ Jack, who had slept with a high percentage of the local wives, Phillie’s included, had relished the kinkier side of sex.

For a mystery, things are dismally predictable here, and the villains too obvious from early on. As for the erotic content — a descent into the S &amp M scene — it’s titillatingly soft-core. C