FINAL CUT by Pamela Chais


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Another murder mystery in Hollywood--with one engaging (though ultimately overworked) twist: the cop on the case is 29-year-old Bud Bacola, who years ago was himself a top kiddie-actor named Buddy Bacall. In fact, the murder victim--notorious, sadistic D. P. Koenig--was Bud's agent way back when; moreover, Bud still blames Koenig for his father's car-crash death (on location), his teenage slide into obesity (which has left him with a diet obsession), and his failure to make a comeback at age 21 (Koenig wouldn't answer his phone-calls). So, while Bud investigates the prime suspects, he also remembers his child-star years, with hints of some repressed trauma relating to his father's death. Those suspects (whose stories emerge in awkwardly inserted flashbacks): over-the-hill director Gordon Flemming, an ill-treated Koenig client who tragically fell in love with a Koenig prostitute/ protÉgÉe; over-the-hill writer Oliver Kelsey, a client who's been reduced to porno flicks; Kelsey's wife Vera, a former Koenig bedmate; and Glenda Deering, a protÉgÉe whom Koenig soaked for money, then sold into sex-slavery (to a kinky producer, who ""turned her into a hopeless pervert""); and Koenig's gay secretary. Bud will eventually finger the unsurprising bad guy, of course--with help from new love Ivy (a fellow dieter) and an obnoxious/lovable fat kid named Gilbert. But he will also, in the process (rather implausibly), dredge up those repressed memories about the car-crash: a pretty ho-hum revelation. Not much vigor in the suspense here, then, especially since it's weighed down by all those slow-moving, sometimes vulgar flashbacks. But Chais (Split Ends) does fairly well with the sleek-and-sleazy Hollywood milieu--and even better with the tart, sentimental comedy of Bud's growing fondness for Gilbert and Ivy (who says, ""I go around looking for people I'd like to be thin for because I can't diet on spec""). Overall: serviceable, if inflated, mystery/comedy entertainment--with a bit of extra appeal for Hollywood voyeurs or those who share Bud's weight-watching hangup.

Pub Date: July 1st, 1981
Publisher: Simon & Schuster