Actors and agents struggle to find success in the film and television industry while a serial killer makes his way through Hollywood in Bruin’s (The Christopher Factor, 2003) thriller.
After a decade of running her own talent agency, Shelly Monroe may have found her path to the top with rising star Cody Clifton. She scores him a television gig, resulting in a hefty paycheck for both of them; sure enough, the new series is a bona fide hit, and Cody becomes a hot commodity. Shelly fields numerous offers and tries to keep her golden goose happy as he adjusts to his grueling work schedule. Meanwhile, Los Angeles Police Department homicide detectives Maxine “Max” Calderas and Greg London hunt a serial murderer that the media calls “The Coyote,” who leaves his strangled victims covered in bite marks. The two stories eventually collide, but the author seems more invested in relaying a Hollywood tale than a murder mystery. The storyline involving Shelly and Cody isn’t particularly scathing, but it does offer an unvarnished glimpse of the TV world, minus all the glamour. Cody, for example, works 15-hour days, and the chance for time off diminishes when the show gets an extended episode order and a feature film awaits him. At the same time, his actor pal Jimmy Bodine toils away on a low-budget movie sequel for a lot less money and even less recognition. The novel’s thriller side can be predictable; Bruin only lines up a couple of suspects, and the murderer’s ultimate reveal isn’t shocking. However, the story does stay on point, as it’s about selling people like products—and if that person happens to be a serial killer, then so be it. A few characters get back stories, and although Max is typically sidelined by the Hollywood hubbub, her intellect (and chic archery skills) leaves indelible marks. Bruin’s views of both the industry and the investigation aren’t as dark as readers may expect—the murders are largely off-screen—but the ending is unnerving nonetheless.
A California mystery in which the consequences of murders are just as chilling as the killings themselves.