BLONDE LIGHTNING by Terrill Lee Lankford


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A sleuthing Hollywood “creative executive” takes on a different role: accessory to murder.

The day that O.J. Simpson’s Bronco upstages the NBA finals, eternally uncredited screenwriter Mark Hayes runs into Clyde McCoy, a neighbor and ex-friend (Earthquake Weather, 2004). Clyde’s new screenplay, Blonde Lightning, has interested Vince Timlin, who wants to produce and star in it if they can raise the right amount of money. Clyde’s planning to direct the film, and he wants to pay Mark peanuts to serve as associate producer and watch his back. The assignment turns into quite a challenge once Clyde’s girlfriend, martial-arts star Emily Woolrich, defends her man by beating up a bodyguard attached to Mace Thornburg, a sleazy manager convinced he deserves half of Emily’s income because he introduced her to some people. Leaving behind his new girlfriend Tracy, an unhappily married actress-turned-gallery owner, Mark agrees to join the crew, and that’s when the real fun begins. Somebody, presumably Mace, gets busy playing tricks during the shoot: sending black roses, dead chickens and horse manure COD. The mischief, at first subordinated to all the million other things that can go wrong when you’re shooting a picture, eventually grows beyond the nuisance stage—grows so threatening, in fact, that Clyde considers proactive countermeasures. Even when the cast reluctantly embraces criminal associates, and then criminal actions, though, the author keeps the focus on the ways this lawless madness grows out of the perfectly lawful madness attendant on any low-budget shoot. The fate of Mark’s sole Hollywood credit provides the perfect punch line.

A knowing portrait of Hollywood as it sinks to ever-lower depths, and proof of Tracy’s maxim: “Movies don’t make you immortal—they just make you into a ghost.”

Pub Date: July 26th, 2005
ISBN: 0-345-46779-5
Page count: 304pp
Publisher: Ballantine
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15th, 2005


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