WHO KILLED SAL MINEO? by Susan Braudy

WHO KILLED SAL MINEO?

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KIRKUS REVIEW

Question: what's even sleazier than a leering non-fiction exploitation of a sordid celebrity demise? Answer: a leering fiction exploitation like this one--which, despite some pretensions re sexual consciousness-raising (and despite some patches of crisp writing), merely recycles the real-life Sal Mineo case into a tepid murder-mystery with porno-trimmings. Braudy's narrator-sleuth is young Sara Martin of The New York Post, who covers the Bronx funeral of murdered has-been actor Sal Mineo and then (strangely attracted by the homosexual Mineo milieu) persuades her editor to send her to Hollywood: ""I'll dig up names, anecdotes, gossip. . . . Who did he love? How did he live?"" So off goes Sara to L.A., shadowed by a mysterious gunman. And soon she is interviewing most of the prime suspects in gay bars, Malibu pools, and Hollywood hotels. There's English star-actor Chris Franklin, whom Mineo was about to set up house with. There's gay-hustler Jonathan, who might have been jealous. There's manipulative movie-deal-maker Kate Lyons--and her creepy estranged husband. And, above all, there's grieving bisexual rock-star Mark Loren, Mineo's gorgeous, longtime protÉgÉ/lover--a shallow zombie who lectures Sara on gay liberation and introduces her to abandoned sex without shame, complete with how-to instructions on fellatio. Unfortunately, however, as Sara's narration becomes more graphically liberated, it also becomes more dreary and maudlin, losing the modicum of brisk, comic charm on display in the opening chapters. Likewise, the sketchy but credible characterization of this semi-innocent heroine quickly collapses into murky inconsistency. And the solution to the slow-moving mystery--which involves drugs, not sex, with an entirely blameless Sal Mineo--is neither believable nor surprising. So: a few chunks of strongly nasty dialogue, a few dankly convincing (if over-familiar) glimpses of Southern California--but mostly just titillation and name-dropping for Hollywood voyeurs or Mineo cultists.

Pub Date: April 29th, 1982
ISBN: 0743237706
Publisher: Wyndham/Simon & Schuster