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by E.J. Gorman

Pub Date: Jan. 1st, 1995
ISBN: 0-312-85646-6
Publisher: Forge

 Mystery veteran Gorman (Blood Moon, p. 666, etc.) sprays hot lead from the hip in this punchy historical thriller about a wild race to claim the secret recordings of the Blondest Hollywood Babylonian. It's the early 1960s, and ultra-paranoid FBI top cop J. Edgar Hoover wants to politically geld Jack and Bobby Kennedy. With the reluctant aid of his devoted Renfield, Clyde Tolson, Hoover schemes to obtain Marilyn Monroe's surreptitiously recorded tapes of her illicit unions with Bobby, the newly appointed attorney general; thus leveraged against Washington's best, brightest, and randiest, the waningly relevant Hoover intends to extort a few more years of political currency from JFK, who also trysted with the iconic yet desperately insecure starlet. By the time the plot gets underway, Monroe's ``suicide'' has been discovered, but the coveted tapes have disappeared into the safe of a piggishly dissolute Hollywood magazine publisher. Hoover dispatches psycho-lesbian West Coast operative Melanie Baines, a sadistic moll with an appetite for torturing her victims, to track down the big prize, but the Kennedy boys and their ``associates'' in the Mob also commission agents to join the chase. As if that weren't enough, Gorman wedges fossilized gossip columnist Louella Parsons into the story (the exclusive she'll write on the tapes will resuscitate her moribund career), along with a failed screenwriter scrambling to rescue her kidnapped daughter. A host of colorful minor characters, many of whom come to gruesome ends during the course of Baines's take-no-prisoners investigation, are the icing on this plentifully layered fictional cake. Throughout, while shifting between Washington and Tinseltown, Gorman interrupts the furious action with excerpts from Monroe's personal tapes, adding a melancholy sketch of a woman on the verge to his gleefully trashy narrative. If it weren't for the sputtery conclusion, this could be Madonna's first TV movie. Deliciously slick.