cover image The Hurricane Blonde

The Hurricane Blonde

Halley Sutton. Putnam, $18 trade paper (384p) ISBN 978-0-593-42189-5

Sutton’s gritty sophomore effort (after 2020’s The Lady Upstairs) immerses readers in the underbelly of Hollywood. Former child actor Salma Lowe has a past overloaded with trauma: her famous parents are philandering alcoholics; her beloved starlet sister, Tawney, was brutally murdered 20 years earlier; and Salma herself was raped as a teen, causing her to leave show business and fall into drug addiction. Now in recovery, Salma runs bus tours of places where famous women, including her sister, met tragic ends. But when Tawney’s former fiancé, “the most dangerous director in Hollywood,” begins filming a movie about Tawney, and Salma finds the lead actress drowned in the pool of Tawney’s former home, her fragile sense of stability begins to crack. Sutton’s prose can be overwrought (“Minutes slipped out of my clock and rearranged themselves into an internal logic that didn’t have any use for time”), but she effectively conjures a seedy Los Angeles where directors exploit women, police disbelieve victims, and members of the press are soulless vipers. That atmosphere, plus intriguing true Hollywood lore about Marilyn Monroe, Sharon Tate, and other stars who’ve died tragically, keeps the pages turning. This is an acid-washed treat for fans of L.A. noir. Agent: Sharon Pelletier; Dystel, Goderich & Bourret. (Aug.)