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The pseudonymous Gage has come up with a blockbuster of a first novel: a tale of greed, sex, violence, and Hollywood in the grand Krantz/Collins tradition. It's 1967 and the shimmeringly beautiful and innocent young New York model Annie Havilland is in Hollywood testing for her first movie role. Harmon Kurth, President of International Pictures (and the kind of smarmy, amoral movie exec who gets horses' heads left in his bed), invites her to dinner, takes her back home--and brutally rapes her. When she attempts to press charges against him, he blackballs her in Hollywood with a near-Biblical curse: ""If you come near me at any time in the future, I will make it my business to destroy you."" But little Annie grows up and fights back, weaseling into L.A. show business through a popular series of car-safety commercials and finally convincing drunken, brilliant novelist/screen-writer/director Damon Rhys to give her the lead in his upcoming film. The film's a hit, but Kurth's revenge is to get Annie typecast (through pet gossip-columnists) as a ""sex angel."" Roles aren't forthcoming, and when she stumbles on her movie-star lover's mÉnage á trois, Annie drives off the highway and is critically injured. In the meantime, the nefarious Kurth sends seedy p.i. Wally Dugas probing deeper and deeper into Annie's seemingly normal small-town background--and before Dugas turns on his employer and destroys him, he finds (among other things) an exquisite young dominatrix who turns out to be Annie's half-sister, and who shows up in Hollywood in disguise to aid in Annie's recuperation--as well as to set the scene for the novel's explosive climax. At 700-plus pages, the plot falters here and there; but this is, nonetheless, an enormously enjoyable potboiler overall, bubbling with illicit sex and Machiavellian scheming, well-researched and surprisingly well-written.

Pub Date: May 1st, 1988
Publisher: Simon & Schuster