STARSTRUCK by Linda Palmer


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Palmer (who ""has been married twice, both times to heads of major film studios"") brings oodles of cynical, backroom savvy to this loosely plotted show-biz novel--which, though eventually sabotaged by too many creaky melodramatic devices, provides a good deal of breezy charm and savage fun along the way. Best are the opening chapters--as we meet heroine Abby Tyler, a very young would-be writer who comes to Manhattan in 1973: she supports herself by posing for True Romance illustrations (""No, no, no! It's her left wrist I want handcuffed to the bedpost!""); she manages to sell her black Jungle Girl TV-show idea (""By the way, Vic's having the treatment rewritten for a white girl and he's going to change the setting from Africa to Las Vegas""); and, above all, she finds glorious love with her Greenwich Village landlord--surly, alcoholic playwright Peter Rossano. Then, however, thanks to a contrived knot of misunderstandings and complications (Peter has a Mob-connected, brain-dead wife in a sanitarium), Abby dumps Peter. . . and is whirlwind-wooed into marriage by handsome Julian Kart, the hottest young agent in town. (Julian made it big by turning a sewer-comic into a beloved TV star, thanks to outlandish PR tricks.) And when Julian is picked to take over Olympic Pictures, it's off to Hollywood--where Julian's lieutenants will include: vicious, ambitious bisexual Stuart Gentry; old pal Harry Mayes, whose gorgeous 13-year-old daughter seduces everyone in sight (including her mother); and. . . Peter Rossano. So Abby must stifle her still-burning yen for Peter while being neglected by workaholic Julian--who even opposes Abby's writing aspirations (she sells him a script under a pseudonym). And before Abby and Peter are reunited, there'll be a sticky heap of skulduggeries: Stuart uses the Abby/ Peter affair (and Abby's deep, dark childhood secret) as blackmail; Peter blackmails him back with sex photos; and Julian, who's unfairly implicated in drug-smuggling, conveniently dies (as does Peter's comatose wife). Second-rate plotting--and the crisply edged characters remain flat. But, except when straining for fancy writing, Palmer keeps the narrative moving along briskly--with cruelly accurate dialogue (agents, toadies, real-estaters), dirty linen galore, and name-dropping every which way. Show-biz at its ugliest, but in a strangely likable and good-natured presentation.

Pub Date: July 7th, 1981
Publisher: Putnam