A STRANGER LIKE YOU by Elizabeth Brundage


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A high-minded female Hollywood studio executive is trapped in the kind of lurid drama she hates when she is abducted by a sociopath whose script she rejected.

As the recently installed executive producer at Gladiator Films, Hedda Chase wants to rewrite the studio's trashy agenda by telling stories that "resonate in the hearts and minds of the American public" and eliminate male dominance over women. After she 86's a misogynistic thriller her predecessor greenlighted before dropping dead, she is stalked by the writer, Hugh Waters, a New Jersey insurance underwriter who was paid a large sum for his script but feels abused. Taking cues from its violent plot, he drugs her and deposits her in the trunk of her vintage BMW. When the car is stolen by a troubled young Iraq War veteran, who manages to ignore the thumping noises in the trunk as he heads to Las Vegas with a teenage runaway, Hedda has time to think about a project of hers being filmed in Abu Dhabi, about the stoning death of an Iraqi woman accused of committing adultery with an American soldier. The overlapping plots work better than they should, as does Brundage's odd use of second person when introducing Hedda's point of view. But the author's Hollywood critique is stale and her aspirations to artistic meaning are no more fruitful than Hedda's. Her bursts of high literary style create the nagging sense that she is slumming in the thriller genre. Brundage (Somebody Else's Daughter, 2008, etc.) may be aware of the cheap irony of real life imitating B movies, but that doesn't make the device any less hackneyed.

A psychological thriller with neither compelling insight nor thrills.

Pub Date: Aug. 9th, 2010
ISBN: 978-0-670-02200-7
Page count: 272pp
Publisher: Viking
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1st, 2010


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