Teddy Fay, the ex–CIA op and ex-assassin now working as a producer and stuntman at Centurion Pictures (Smooth Operator, 2016), goes up against two different tribes bent on making trouble for the studio where he’s found a home.
Before she married future Centurion head Ben Bacchetti, Tessa Tweed was an undergraduate at Oxford whose boyfriend Nigel Hightower III made a sex tape of them without telling her. Now someone’s gotten a hold of the tape and is determined to bend her to their will. The blackmailers, Star Pictures head Mason Kimble, still smarting over the rejection of one of his B-movie projects by Centurion director Peter Barrington, and his one-time frat brother Gerard Cardigan, plan to take control of Centurion by forcing Tessa, who owns a crucial block of shares, to vote in favor of their hostile takeover. And they’re not the only bad hombres with mergers on their mind. Sammy Candelosi, who’s just purchased a Las Vegas casino next door to Pete Genaro’s New Desert Inn, is convinced Genaro’s operation would be more profitable under his own management, and his less-than-legal maneuverings eventually put Teddy, now calling himself Billy Barnett so that he won’t be troubled by people who once knew him as Billy Burnett, in his sights as well. The complication that renders all these nefarious plots utterly unthreatening is that neither the murderous blackmailers nor the mobbed-up Vegas casino owner nor Slythe, his knife-wielding bodyguard, has any idea what an adversary they’re up against in Teddy, whose loyalty to Centurion is matched only by his uncanny skill at self-preservation.
Reliable, pleasantly overplotted, low-impact thrills make this a perfect airplane read the next time you’re jetting to La-La Land.