SWEET LA-LA LAND by Robert Campbell


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Campbell's tales of lurid, dank doings in garishly sleazy L.A.--In La-La Land We Trust; etc.--have tended to be short on mystery, long on the ironic playing-out of grim inevitabilities. This time the irony is heavier than ever, with grotesque coincidences, ghastly familial intersections, and deliberate echoes of Greek tragedy and Dickens. Downbeat shamus-hero Whistler (a former TV clown) cheers up considerably when he runs into beloved old-flame Faye (now a social worker). And he willingly undertakes a nearly impossible mission for her: Faye wants to find the son she abandoned over ten years ago, when the baby's father--a psycho named Inch Younger--was convicted of a series of foul Satanic murders. So off goes Whistler to Georgia's hillbilly country, where Faye's son was last seen, amid Younger's creepy kinfolk. What Whistler doesn't know, however, is that the boy, a disturbed and homeless teenprostitute known as ""Bitsy,"" is right in L.A. What he also doesn't know is that weird, sex-crazed Younger has just gotten out of jail on parole. And what Younger doesn't know is that he's been marked for murder--by the exploitation-movie mogul (and Satanist monster) who framed Younger for those murders years ago. The reader, on the other hand, knows all, of course, as Campbell's dense, juicy narration pin-wheels--from Whistler's search to Bitsy's hustler-world to Younger's psycho-rampage to the movie-mogul's slimy machinations. So there's little suspense, as well as little credibility, as the mayhem escalates into a grisly, multihomicidal reunion for Bitsy, mom, and dad. Still, for fanciers of Sunset Boulevard raunch and neon pathos: harshly vivid, depressingly sharp vignettes from an assured stylist.

Pub Date: April 2nd, 1990
Publisher: Poseidon/Simon & Schuster