RICH KIDS by Robert Westbrook


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Westbrook (Lady Left, The Left-Handed Policeman), son of the late Hollywood gossip columnist Sheilah Graham, returns with a lurid family portrait and murder mystery, set in the moneyed world in which he grew up (the same world we glimpse in half-sister Wendy Fairey's nonfictional One of the Family, p. 228). Jonno is a piano player in a singles bar in Petaluma when he finds out that his movie honcho father, whom he hasn't seen in over a decade, has been murdered. So Jonno heads back to the mansion in Hollywood Hills and the siblings he's fled. There's Rags, the oldest, now dying of AIDS; Carl, the family socialist, now running a shelter for the homeless; David, a studio head; Opera, teen star of a TV series; and half-sister Zoe--Jonno's obsession. When he was 11, Zoe--Botticelli-beautiful, intense, and manipulative--moved into the house; with parental supervision almost entirely lacking, the two began a torrid sexual affair. Now, arriving home after years on the road, Jono discovers that he is his father's principal heir--and the police's primary suspect. Undone by his still-strong attraction to Zoe (acted on most bizarrely when the two go at it on a pool table at the memorial service for dad!), Jonno blunders around, trying to unlock ancient angers and find out which of the poor little rich kids is behind his father's death. Jonno's investigation is lackluster: lots of driving around and screechy family battles end in a showdown that's both cataclysmic and contrived. But the atmospherics are entertaining enough, thanks to monster doses of movieland decadence. In all: an untaxing spin through Hollywood unhappiness.

Pub Date: May 1st, 1992
Page count: 320pp
Publisher: Birch Lane/Carol