L.A. TIMES by Stuart Woods


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 Woods--an off-again (Santa Fe Rules, etc.), on-again (New York Dead, etc.) writer--is very much on here, turning his big weakness- -stagnant characters--into a strength. In this enjoyably high- sleaze potboiler about a mafioso who conquers Hollywood, there's no need for character growth: Every member of the cast is a blackhearted villain, and the great fun is watching them claw each other as the author spins out one unexpected twist, loop, and climax after another. ``You have the single most important quality that a successful producer can possess...you are a complete sociopath.'' When his sexy assistant says that to Michael Vincent, she isn't kidding. Born Vincente Michaele Callabrese in N.Y.C., Michael is a mob- connected hustler who parlays his passion for movies into fame and fortune when he bankrolls a superior indie feature that lands him a producing deal at a top studio--and never mind that he has to kill two fellow mafiosi to get the funds for the film. In L.A., the comer wallows in the lavish life, investing his money with a loan- shark. When the rights-holder on the novel he plans to film next refuses to sell, Michael calls on his old mob-pal Tommy Pro for help, leading to the release of the rights--but only through a murder that leaves Michael's fingerprints at the scene. A nosy cop realizes that Michael's guilt, so the producer simply buys him out- -and kills him after a second blackmail attempt. And so Michael leaps up the ladder--conning actors and writers, ruining lives, cuckolding and then killing his boss--but always making good films (and winning a Best Picture Oscar for one), until his greed gets him in trouble with Tommy Pro, who's now a Mafia don--and who arranges the harsh yet poetically just fate that closes the book on Michael. With a villain as charismatically coldblooded as this one, who needs a hero? Not Woods--and not readers of this devilishly entertaining thriller. (First printing of 100,000)

Pub Date: May 12th, 1993
ISBN: 0-06-017714-4
Page count: 320pp
Publisher: HarperCollins
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15th, 1993


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