A writer’s recent success leads to wealth and fame, but someone may expose his murky past in Sennet’s thriller and English-language debut.
When a successful Hollywood producer adapts Alan Dehaney’s second, relatively unknown book into a stage play, it’s a hit, and Alan becomes a hot commodity. His wife, Vania, who can’t handle the attention, leaves with their daughter, Cris, but Alan revels in the money and readily available women. His troubles start when he swans off to Sweden with girlfriend Cynthia, who is brutally murdered. Jeffrey Barber Ray, meanwhile, who caught an American TV interview with Alan, remembers the writer as Ferdinand Finley and shows up in Sweden. Alan might have to come clean to Vania and possibly the Swedish police about something he’s been hiding—a tragic fire he was blamed for 14 years ago. Originally published (in Portuguese) in 1996, the novel is set around the same time, but it isn’t dated. Its scathing, unfiltered portrayal of Hollywood, once film rights for Alan’s book are negotiated, burns just as hot as anything today. The murder mystery takes a back seat about a third of the way in, when Alan returns to the U.S. and makes a confession to Vania. But the story is genuinely about his past and why someone seems to be framing him for murder in an act of revenge. Sennet offers plenty of suspects who may have their sights set on Alan, resulting in numerous, shocking plot twists. Readers may have difficulty sympathizing with the protagonist. He’s accused of several transgressions, including murder, and he’s not a very likable guy, especially because he seems indifferent to Cris. But the novel brims with seedy characters, and the dark but engaging storyline resists upbeat developments. The English translation seems to have hit a few snags. For example, the U.S. film Hero is twice mentioned by its overseas title, Accidental Hero.
A somber tale that’s smart, enticing and audacious.