Thursday, June 17, 2010

Death by Hollywood

Death by Hollywood
by Steven Bochco

I've enjoyed Bochco's television series for years -- groundbreaking hits like Hill Street Blues, L.A. Law, Doogie Howser M.D., Hooperman, and Murder One (though I never got into NYPD Blue). Before he became one of the 1980s and 1990s' most influential producers, I'd enjoyed his writing for 1970s cop shows, too -- his Columbo plots were some of the most intricate that series every produced. Do, with that kind of writing pedigree, I looked forward to reading this, his first novel. I'll have to admit, I was kind of disappointed. As a mystery/thriller, this novel sort of fits into the "Columbo" mold -- we (the reader) know who did everything, and the fun of the plot is to see if the "sleuth" characters can figure it out. Unfortunately, this process isn't really all that enjoyable, because the characters are distinctly unlikeable. Bochco pokes a lot of fun at the foibles and idiocies of the entertainment industry, and on that level, I'd recommend this one as an indictment of that world. However, as a mystery novel this one is merely lukewarm. I'd also caution those that find offensive language to be one of your barometers of readability -- this one is rife with four-letter words...and unnecessarily so, in my opinion. If you'd still like to pursue this one, here's the plot in a nutshell: Two-time loser screenwriter with writer's block witnesses a murder through a telescope, but instead of calling it in, he decides to position of inside knowledge to write a screenplay about what he saw, insinuating himself into the lives of the guilty parties and the cops investigating the crime. Several double- and triple-crosses later, his agent (who narrates the story) tumbles to an even bigger secret when the script sees the light of day. [If you enjoy this, you may also wish to try the works of Stephen J. Cannell, another TV producer who's moved into writing novels.] -- recommended by Scott C. - Bennett Martin Public Library

Have you read this one? What did you think? Did you find this review helpful?

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