Whimsical first novel in which an elderly Montana woman--who deplores being quoted for ""local color""--serves up plenty as she tells how an old friend went from hooker to Hollywood legend. Back in old-time Butte, in the days before WW II, smoke from the smelters often turned the sky dark even at noon, children played on mine dumps, and Effa Commander, Whippy Bird, and May Anna Kovaks--the trio soon to be known as the Unholy Three (May Anna soon to become the actress Marion Street)--became best friends. Years later, Effa Commander is prodded by Whippy Bird into setting the record straight after a book presents a distorted picture of Marion Street's early years--and of the Tinseltown Love Triangle that led to a fatal shooting for which Buster Midnight, Butteborn heavyweight champ and long-suffering lover of Marion, went to prison. There's a small-town innocence to Effa Commander's account as she records childhood memories and tells of Marion's and Buster's rise to fame: she can talk about Prohibition bootlegging and May Anna turning out as a prostitute and still sound rather wholesome. Over the years, all of the characters suffer loss--Effa Commander loses her babies; both she and Whippy Bird are widowed by the war; Buster loses Marion and his career; Marion in Hollywood seems to lose her soul--but love, devotion, and friendship see them through, while memories of growing up together remain a touchstone for all. Good-humored and harmless, best for its picture of Butte.