IF there is something inexplicably fascinating about the super-rich and super-famous, there is nevertheless an awful seediness in the details of their money matters. So a book that digs into how a particular sports celebrity, chef, fashion designer - or even a business person - handles his or her millions elicits a queasy mix of curiosity and grimaces. The Rich and Famous Money Book: Investment Strategies of Leading Celebrities (John Wiley & Sons, US$19.95) yields an odd harvest of people willing to talk about this most delicate of matters with author Jean Sherman Chatzky, a senior writer with SmartMoney magazine and a television personality in her own right. For every one person who agreed to talk, six others flatly refused. Reading about other people's money is rather like going through their underwear drawers in the company of Oprah Winfrey, that queen of communal navel-gazing. The point of chasing down 28 interviews was, apparently, to allow lesser mortals to draw useful lessons from the investment strategies employed by the hugely successful - perhaps so that, in future, glory and moolah can be spread more equitably. Thus, we learn that humourist Dave Barry stacks up healthy profits from real-estate transactions, largely because he doubts the stock markets. Ivana Trump, ex-wife of real-estate developer Donald, has already raked in sizeable gains from her US$25 million divorce settlement through investments in bonds, stocks and mutual funds. And so on. From these stories, the average investor is somehow to pick out valuable lessons. This is a dubious theory. Each interviewee's investment strategy is so utterly different from every other (and, in some cases, the word 'luck' applies better than strategy) that, in the end, all Ms Chatzky can offer the reader are the usual helpful investment hints for the novice, slotted in at the end of each chapter. These include: draw up a budget, pay off credit-card bills, start saving, have a separate bank account from your spouse, don't buy collectibles unless you've got money to burn, and so on. Although hardly qualifying as rocket science, these are all useful pointers for the financial neophyte. In fact, the author might have done better to focus simply on basic investor strategy sprinkled, for a lighter touch, with stories about the rich and the famous. In its present form, the book is a confused, unhappy hybrid of instruction manual and disjointed character sketches. The beleaguered reader is dragged through tedious tales of what otherwise-interesting people do with their money. In fact, one interviewee hinted rather broadly that the whole money aspect of his life bored him to tears and that he gladly handed the matter over to hired experts. Civil-liberties attorney and Harvard Law School professor Alan Dershowitz confessed: 'I don't like money. I don't enjoy billing. I think of the money I make as a by-product of the fun I'm having, of teaching, and writing and defending people.' Certainly an interview about law with the passionate Prof Dershowitz would make a more gripping read than this interview about money with a reluctant Mr Dershowitz. Another obstacle for the book's success: if you have not lived in the United States, you will be forgiven for not instantly perking up at the mention of the 'Too Hot Tamales', otherwise known as a food-business venture between Susan Feniger and Mary Sue Milliken. Rich they might be, but famous - at least outside of the US - is stretching things a bit.