In 1961, a troubled but immensely clever starlet is roped into dangerous Cold War intrigue.
Sixteen-year-old Pagan, an up-and-coming actress in 1950s and ’60s Hollywood, lost everything when she killed her father and baby sister with a drunken swerve of her Corvette. Now she's just another inmate at the Lighthouse Reformatory for Wayward Girls, struggling with sobriety and self-loathing. Salvation comes from an unlikely source: her old studio sends a dashing young man to fetch her from jail. Devin Black is darkly handsome, irritatingly attentive, and an obvious liar. Why would he be so desperate to drag a jailbird actress off to West Berlin? How did he get so powerful, able to bend studio executives and judges to his will? In a divided Berlin, Pagan runs the risk of being swamped by geopolitical danger from Communist East Germans—and the ongoing temptation of alcohol. Her prodigious competence at everything she attempts, from acting to espionage, would make her unbelievable if Berry did not temper it so well with her struggles with addiction. Loving descriptions of early-’60s fashion and lustfully purple descriptions of Devin (with eyes like "shards of stained glass shaded from indigo to azure" or "turbulent seas on a blustery night") don't distract from the well-paced historical thriller.
Scary in all the right places, with a strong setup for the sequel. (Suspense. 13-15)