FADE TO BLACK by Wendy Corsi Staub

FADE TO BLACK

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KIRKUS REVIEW

Feverishly frothy tale of an actress living incognito, menaced by a shadowy stalker. It’s been five years since Mallory Eden, that “perky, pretty, girl-next-door” starlet everybody loved, supposedly jumped off a Montana cliff into the turbulent Rock River. Her body was never found, but a suicide note in her Lexus implies that she was unhinged by an unidentified stalker who not only sent her threatening letters, but killed her secretary and then shot Eden in the womb so she could never conceive. While the Hollywood infotainment world mourns, a somewhat fleshier Eden is silently fighting baby cravings and nightmares in the unremarkable Rhode Island hamlet of Windemere Cove. Pretending to be freelance writer Elizabeth Baxter (who never seems to read or write), Eden, whose pre-Hollywood name was Cindy O’Neal, gets an ominous, anonymous letter in the mail one day from someone who purports to know who she is. Baxter-Eden-O’Neal thinks she faked her suicide perfectly, but her past, revealed through distractingly shrill flashbacks, has enough unresolved conflicts (her sleazy boyfriend has become a coveted guest on daytime talk shows), family trauma (she was abandoned as a child by her drug-addicted mother), and trashy secrets (she made her debut in a porno flick) to fill a Jacqueline Susann novel. While our heroine tries to guess who the stalker is (the kindly but strangely familiar locksmith, or her nosey policeman neighbor?), a host of skeletons, including her long-lost mother, stumble out of the closet to claim her for vile and shameless purposes. Shiny with Tinseltown sleaze, this first solo hardcover from Staub plays its tabloid terrors and tacky soap opera clichÇs deathlessly straight. The result is funny when it shouldn’t be, silly and affected the rest of the time. A hissy catfight during the cliff-hanging finale is a hoot, but not worth the campy climb to get there.

Pub Date: May 1st, 1998
ISBN: 1-57566-285-X
Page count: 304pp
Publisher: Kensington
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15th, 1998




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