An unsought assignment sends reporter Ellie Stone from upstate New York to Hollywood in the rainy month of February 1962.
New Holland doesn’t send many natives to La-La Land, and Ellie’s editor, Charlie Reese, thinks his readers will want to know how Tony Eberle is faring as the second lead in the monumental epic Twistin’ on the Beach. The answer is not well at all: he’s gone AWOL, Paramount has fired him from the picture, and he’ll never eat lunch in this town again. Foiled in her attempt to get the easy story, Ellie (Heart of Stone, 2016, etc.) grits her teeth and goes after the tough one, which depends on her finding Tony when no one else can. At first there’s little competition for the honor, because once he’s been let go, Tony is the lowest of the low, and no one cares where he is. But the news that Twistin’ producer Bertram Wallis has also disappeared along with the script he wrote for the film The Colonel’s Widow makes Paramount fixer Dorothy Fetterman much more interested in tracking down Tony. And when Wallis turns up dead in a ravine outside his hillside house’s deck, Sgt. John L. Millard, LAPD, joins the hunt. Ellie, who keeps swearing she just wants to meet William Hopper of Perry Mason fame, ends up nosing into every hiding spot in Los Angeles County in search of Tony, his girlfriend, April Kincaid, and that missing script. Her discovery of two out of the three leads to even deeper waters and the suspicion that everyone in Tinseltown is either gay or conspiring against her—except, possibly, for William Hopper.
Ziskin’s nice-but-no-nonsense hero is out seriously past her depth in these fleshpots, where, as she aptly notes, she can’t trust a single person. Readers will end up rooting for her to get sent back to the East Coast, where people just murder each other.