Derailed by addiction, a writer gets the chance to redeem herself in this suspenseful Hollywood thriller.
Brett Tanager had it all. A reporter who became a successful television showrunner with her very first idea, Brett lived with her gorgeous boyfriend and had a wonderful relationship with his daughter, Julia. Brett had just one problem: She couldn’t write without alcohol and drugs. Late one night, after a trip to her dealer, she killed a woman in a hit-and-run. Gould’s debut novel really begins years after Brett’s accident. Having lost everything, she’s now house-sitting in present-day Malibu. She’s standing at the water’s edge, contemplating suicide, when Julia appears. Brett resists the urge to drink while Julia describes how her best friend, Caleigh, the daughter of the Hollywood big shot who produced Brett’s show, has disappeared. Despite her immense wealth, Caleigh was involved in “enjo kosai,” a Japanese variant of prostitution in which older men pay teenage girls large amounts of money for sex. Julia is convinced that, since the show Brett wrote was a police procedural, Brett will be able to find Caleigh. Brett knows she’s not capable of finding anything other than the bottom of a bottle of Glenfiddich, but she goes to find a private investigator’s phone number for Julia. When Brett returns, Julia has vanished. Her disappearance prompts Brett to re-engage with her old Hollywood life—and even start to get clean—to save Julia. But will Brett’s efforts to pull her life together be too little, too late? And will she ever confess to her own crime? A television writer herself, Gould clearly knows Brett’s milieu. Most characters seem plucked from US Weekly: Brad and Angelina copycats Campbell McCauley and Rosalie Bennett; “Internet gossip maven” Jason Ratt; and Nic Ripetti, “go-to investigator for the stars.” The locations are similarly realistic, whether Brett is enduring an Alcoholics Anonymous meeting a few blocks from the beach or making her way through a Hollywood funeral-turned–networking session. Occasionally, an inauthentic or clichéd phrase slows the novel’s forward momentum, as when Brett observes that a doctor’s “brown eyes glinted like jewels offset by clear white,” or when Brett’s desire rises “like embers catching fire.” But those clunky moments are only minor road bumps in Brett’s frenetic, entertaining ride.
Celebrity, addiction, money and deception collide in this exciting debut mystery.