O'Brien (Only Son) mixes show-business intrigue with taut psychological suspense in a clever Hollywood-based thriller that would translate well into film. Attorney Sean Olson, who is struggling to support her two children and terminally ill husband, hardly knows what she's getting into when she agrees to defend celebrity nice guy Avery Cooper. Cooper is accused of murdering an obsessed fan, but a series of incidents, recounted by the author in graphic but credible detail, leads Olson to believe that Cooper and Dayle Sutton, his female costar in a controversial new movie about gay rights, are being set up and targeted by Soldiers for an American Moral Order. The extremist right-wing group which prides itself on stalking celebrities, revealing their secrets and then killing them throws the light of public scrutiny on Cooper and Sutton when it publicizes a private sex tape of Cooper and his wife and exposes a lesbian dalliance that Sutton had years ago. The narrative hits fever pitch in the final scenes as Olson, Cooper and Sutton confront the white supremacists that have sullied their reputations and threatened their loved ones. Gay rights, gun control and other hot-button issues augment the narrative tension, and O'Brien's snappy dialogue effectively maintains the breakneck pacing of this haunting read. (May) Forecast: Although this is only O'Brien's second novel, his readership is likely to increase via word of mouth and strong critical review. Booksellers may also see a rise in sales if this thriller is placed among the recent paperback releases of Lisa Gardner and Michael Kimball.