Kieran O’Connor (Tight Spot, 1995) calls himself a celebrity journalist, not a tabloid hack. But what you are, says Sloan Baker, is a hypocrite—a down-and-dirty sleaze merchant. Baker happens to be a hooker, but don’t count her out of the debate. In truth, our boy doesn’t in fact have much of a value system. From the time he accepts an offer to ghost a book for Felina Lopez, hooker emeritus, his choices become steadily less defensible. The bio is to be about Felina’s lurid relationship with a famous TV star; their hope, of course, to strike it rich. But that’s chancy, since the star has been dead a month thanks to a drug overdose. Which means, Who remembers? What’s inescapable, though, is that the book may well do psychic damage to the star’s six-year-old son. Kieran is undeterred. He’s broke, you see. And when you’re broke in Hollywood, he argues, value systems are expendable. Besides, it isn’t Kieran’s fault that the star fooled around. But then suddenly the stakes skyrocket when Felina’s found dead. Was she murdered? Please, please, let it be so—a prayer sent up by choristers of fast-buck agents, publishers, and similar parasitic types, a group that includes the protagonist. He makes politically correct noises from time to time, wriggles and squirms, rationalizes and defends, but it all has a hollow ring. When the bandwagon chugs home to collect its booty, there’s Kieran still snugly ensconced. The pity is there’s some good, sharp writing in this portrait of Tinseltown’s bleak otherworld. If only Allman’s sleuth himself were a more sympathetic, less unappealing type.