In this mystery, a former actor with movie producer aspirations may have a good story to sell if he can find the woman he once loved, who inexplicably vanished.
Judd Morgan’s role in a successful sitcom isn’t much help in his move to the producer’s chair. Hollywood studios still want a solid script, and Judd doesn’t have one to offer. His literary agent friend Flora Roberts suggests that, rather than seek other authors’ work, Judd should write something himself. He finds inspiration in the story of Sylvia Chait, whom he’d met near his home in Still River, Connecticut. She was living with retired Hollywood suit Stuart Chase at the time and had once been Lady Sylvia, the wife of knighted British film director Sir Richard Royce. Sylvia was definitely an enigma; her moods oscillated without warning, and Judd wondered at one point if she was bipolar. But he was absolutely certain that he was falling in love with her—and then she suddenly disappeared. Now, three years later, Judd follows her trail across various countries and realizes the Sylvia whom people have encountered may be different from the woman he loved. And his prospective screenplay won’t have an ending until Judd gets answers. Like any strong missing person tale, Shayne’s (co-author: Double Life, 2013, etc.) story reveals just as much about the searcher as the individual being sought. In fact, Judd turns out to be the more intriguing character. While he’s looking for Sylvia, a TV Christmas special he’s developed is in the works. In his separate gig as a producer, he is saddled with a director with obvious disdain for the material. Sylvia’s back story, which Judd (and readers) learns in the final act, is comprehensive and richly detailed. But it doesn’t provide much alleviation from a somber novel largely devoid of humor. Sylvia’s aloofness, for example, can be overwhelming, even if there’s a reason for it. Shayne, however, nails the franticness of Hollywood; despite only being a co-producer, Judd alternates countries for editing, effects, music, etc.
A bleak but potent Hollywood tale with an exceptional and truly riveting protagonist.