The best parts of Lange's (Gossip and Trophy Wife) mystery debut are when the veteran Los Angeles news anchor and Hollywood insider lets her roots show, dropping gobbets of showbiz lore into the otherwise thin broth of a bland story. When Lange's Maxi Poole—a tall blonde whom we first meet (at the funeral of her ex-husband, actor Jack Nathanson) wearing "a short, bright red, zip-up sweater with a red-and-white tweed miniskirt"—describes the furnishings at Nathanson's Benedict Canyon home, anyone who has ever read a People profile will recognize the artwork: "Bulky, bizarre sculptures on pedestals, cryptic drawings and gigantic pieces of Expressionism, bloody, gory scenes portraying people cut in half, phantoms, ghouls, the devil in many forms, human and animal freaks of nature." Likewise, Maxi's work methods when she talks to the homicide detectives investigating Nathanson's murder also ring bright and true: "Still, she expected to learn something from the conversation—a tone, an attitude, a feeling that they were really on to something, or not." But these original moments only serve to make the rest of this flabby tale about which one of Nathanson's horde of ex-wives and lovers actually knocked him off sound more like an Entertainment Tonight recycle than a hot news item—although readers might have some fun trying to figure just how close the conniving, kinky and fatally charming Jack Nathanson is to a real-life star with a similar name. Agent, Robin Rue. (Mar. 14)
Forecast:With a four-city author tour and plugs from the likes of Sidney Sheldon and Dominick Dunne, Lange, a former anchor and reporter for L.A.'s KNBC-TV and a correspondent for the daily news show Women 2 Women, should get off to a fast start. Hollywood gossip fans could sustain the momentum.
Release date: 03/01/2002