Paperback – February 29, 2020
Two women arrive in Hollywood just after World War II. They both have brains and ambition. One will become a star but sacrifice everything she loves; the other will become the victim of a sexual predator too powerful to be denied—or prosecuted.
Priscilla Preston and her husband Ken are struggling New York actors when Priscilla is picked as the lead in a new picture for Blackwell Studios. Morton Blackwell is the obsessive, despotic, charming monster who tries to control every aspect of his movies and everyone around him. Anna Andrzejewski is a recent immigrant from the ashes of bombed-out Berlin trying to succeed in a Hollywood that may not be ready to accept a blonde, Nordic beauty with a complicated past. Screenwriter/mystery author Lyman becomes involved in the lives and problems of both Priscilla and Anna while he tries to find a reason to live after the death of this wife. Morton takes Priscilla to Hollywood, changes her name to Pamela Carr, and makes her his lover. Husband Kenny Preston is upset and troublesome about the loss of his wife, but he conveniently dies from an overdose of booze and pills. But was it an accident, a suicide, or perhaps something else? Anna is just getting started at Blackwell Studios when Morton turns an interview into an attempted rape. Anna’s bind: how can she punish him when he controls her future and no one else cares? When a story appears in the tabloid Star hinting that Mort was involved in the death of Ken Preston the same night that he raped Anna, she lies to incriminate him in the death, knowing that his only true alibi is to admit his assault on her. Eventually Lyman discovers the unlikely killer of Kenny Preston, but the world has moved on. Pamela Carr is essentially a #metoo story about the intersection of sex and power and ambition, and the price of success. But it is also about forgiveness and healing and next steps.
Review by “Jennie Reads” (jenniereads.com)
The glamour days of Hollywood are brought to life in this Noir(ish) mystery. If you’re longing for the days of elegance and slimy film directors – this may be your read.
The book follows two actresses as they try and participate in the system of becoming and remaining stars. While the key character, Lyman Wilbur writer and part-time sleuth is back, the story concentrates more on the lives and exploits of actresses Priscilla (aka Pamela Carr) and Anna. Each trying to be a strong woman at a time when it was not the norm, these characters face some of the challenges of the Golden Age of Hollywood. While this book is a continuation for the character Lyman Wilbur, the story can easily be read and enjoyed as a stand-alone.
I could almost hear the click-clack of a manual typewriter as I enjoyed the light cynical touch to the characters in this book.