Out There in the Dark

Wesley Strick, Author
Wesley Strick, Author . St. Martin's/Dunne $23.95 (323p) ISBN 978-0-312-34381-1
Open Ebook - 336 pages - 978-1-4668-6053-7
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Strick captures the freewheeling but edgy atmosphere of WWII-era Hollywood. Harley Hayden, a handsome but limited actor à la Ronald Reagan, is conducting an affair with Eleanor Lustig, whose father, Arthur, is the head of Superior Studios. As Hayden tries to make his way up the Hollywood ladder, Arthur hires a detective, Mike Roarke, to make sure the actor is a suitable suitor for his daughter. As Hayden passes muster, he gets a break when German director Dieter Seife—who changes his name to Derek Sykes, more palatable to the American moviegoing public—gives him a starring role in his next picture. Hayden's chance comes at a cost, as Derek turns Hayden into his personal whipping boy, and the director's mercurial, neurotic behavior also conceals a secret that Roarke unveils. Strick shows a fine feel for the period and the nuances of Hollywood film life, and his character writing is rock-solid. But problems surface in the tepid plotting: the material dealing with Hayden's career is well crafted but lacks tension, and the Seife/Sykes subplot arrives too late to have much dramatic impact. (Feb. 14)

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