Known for his screenplay for The African Queen and his lifelong friendships with Ernest Hemingway and John Huston (about whom he wrote in Dangerous Friends, 1992), Viertel pens a clunky yet charming tale of an old American actor living in southern Spain. Narrator Robert Masters, 60ish, has spent most of the last 40 years in Europe after his career as a Hollywood supporting actor was terminated by a studio heavy who caught him in bed with the heavy's mistress. After two failed marriages and a moderately successful stint in European productions, Masters has retired to the Costa del Sol. As the novel begins, he is experiencing rough times: He can't afford his villa and rents it out, only to have the tenants skip town; he lives across the hall from his Spanish son- in-law, a private detective who is in the midst of a nasty separation from his daughter; and things aren't perfect with his longtime girlfriend. As a favor to his son-in-law, Masters agrees to tail Sir Cecil Collins, a British tycoon whose wife wants proof that he's cheating. When a thug holds up Collins on a golf course, Masters intervenes with a seven iron and is instantly befriended by the tycoon. Complicating matters further are Lady Collins, who makes passes at Masters, and the thug's sister, a beautiful flamenco dancer who uses her charms to convince the actor that he should drop the charges against her poor brother. Adding to the cast of rather stock characters is the arrival of a mega-yacht filled with old Hollywood friends, including the mistress who caused Masters's banishment, who have come to take him back to California. There's plenty of action and little emotion in this cool, detached novel, which nevertheless spins an entertaining yarn about a protagonist coming to grips with always being the odd man out.