cover image Hollywood Hills: Hollywood Hills

Hollywood Hills: Hollywood Hills

Gabrielle Kraft. Pocket Books, $5.99 (336pp) ISBN 978-0-671-73646-0

This competent yarn about troubled lives in Tinseltown begins in 1936, when Katherine Ransome's future looks rosy. She has her first part in a feature film and has caught the appreciative eye of two actors: Richard Sears, the film's star, and Leo Cole, a poor but talented and savvy Hungarian Jew who has fled Europe's turmoil. Though warned that producer Edgar Lashman has bought Richard for his beautiful, spoiled daughter, Maria, Katherine loses her heart to the actor and becomes pregnant. Leo, who has bided his time waiting for Katherine to turn to him, marries the seduced and abandoned woman while Richard moves on to his career as the ``prince'' of Hollywood and Lashman lapdog. Katherine settles into domesticity, until Leo's death forces her to fend for herself and her brat-pack children in a Hollywood that is becoming increasingly glittery, gossipy and vicious. While following Katherine's 50-year career as an actress and agent, Kraft ( Bloody Mary ) captures Hollywood's superficiality and pettiness in believably flawed characters who range from despicable to just likable. (Aug.)