cover image A Glimpse of Stocking

A Glimpse of Stocking

Elizabeth Gage. Simon & Schuster, $18.45 (0pp) ISBN 978-0-671-64429-1

The pseudonymous author of this hefty first novel sensationalizing Hollywood's dark and seamy side initially displays a flair for tall tales, but the narrative loses its credibility entirely by the halfway mark. Lured by the prospect of a screen test, Annie Havilland falls prey to Harmon Kurth, head of International Pictures and a sexual sadist of no small order. Her brutalization at his hands only convinces Annie to try harder; returning to New York, she hones her acting skills and plots revenge. A few years later, Annie takes Hollywood by storm when she's cast in a steamy movie by the renowned, reclusive Damon Rhys. Into this orbit comes Christine, a sophisticated call girl with a penchant for violence, a legacy from her vitriolic mother, Alethea, who systematically sought to crush her daughter for a sin committed by the shadowy man who was her father. In Damon, Annie and Christine find a father figure, until the relationship changes in a way that threatens to destroy them all. Heaping doses of sex and violence fail to cover up the flaws of a wooden cast of characters driven by a string of events that rise less from their pasts than out of a bottomless well of coincidence. First serial to Cosmopolitan; Literary Guild and Doubleday Book Club alternates. (May)