An aspiring Hollywood starlet struggles to launch her career while a serial killer stalks young actresses in this novel.
Ariel Ames has just arrived in Hollywood to pursue her dream of becoming an actress. At first, things don’t look so great. She has no agent or connections; she’s living with an obnoxious, sex-crazed roommate; and a serial murderer called the Angel Killer is slaughtering young redheads in outlandish, dramatic ways. Ariel, a redhead, signs up for self-defense classes yet also lands a job dancing at a bikini bar under the stage name Scarlet. Her workplace is called Misty’s Menagerie of Misfits, Marvels, and Maladjusts, and is something of a local institution. Soon after she begins, she attracts the attention of a talent agent while a coffee shop encounter lands her a date with an actor named Nate Harris. As the Angel Killer continues to terrorize the city, he broadcasts a message to inform the world that he is murdering people to absolve them of their sins. “What I do, I do out of mercy, not malice. I kill because I care,” he says. Special Agent Marcus August of the FBI investigates the case as the body count keeps rising. But things take a much more sinister turn when Ariel begins receiving notes from the killer. Afraid but not wanting to run and hide, she has to balance her desire to quickly build her career with the haunting menace of the Angel Killer, who seems ready to murder again. Adam’s (American Asshole, 2016, etc.) book is somewhat short. But for a concise novel, he tackles a great deal of weighty issues, no small feat for a writer whose protagonist met her agent at a strip club but refuses to do on-screen nudity. The Hollywood he writes about is full of men harboring motives and agendas, with the ever-present threat of sexual harassment or even rape always looming. In addition, the serial killer’s crimes are a shocking example of misogyny. This work isn’t as in-depth or as humorous as Adam’s wonderful debut, American Asshole, and there isn’t space to develop all of the characters. Even so, lighthearted irony does shine through, and the conclusion delivers an inventive, theatrical climax.
A spirited Hollywood mystery that has its moments.