on 24 July 2007
Rupert Holmes ? It can't be the same Rupert Holmes I remember from the 1970s. The guy who sang about liking Pina Coladas and a walk in the rain? Yes, the same. Thirty years on and Holmes has moved on from lyrics to literature and, in Where The Truth Lies, he has produced one belter of a book.
The plot seems complicated but intriguing. It is set in the mid-1970s, and hinges on an event that happened back in 1959. The story is told largely in the first person from the perspective of the novel's main character, a 26 year-old woman journalist. O'Connor (the journalist) is determined to write the biography of one (or other) of a famous 1950s American double-act, Lanny Morris and Vince Collins. Morris is Jewish and was the comedy/slapstick half of the act. Collins was the duo's straight man with the fabulous singing voice, and came from Italian stock. Any resemblance between these two fictional characters and the 1950s duo Jerry Lewis & Dean Martin is entirely intentional, right down to the inclusion in the plot of a telethon.
These three principals are strong and entirely believable. All of them demonstrate character faults yet, as a testament to Holmes's writing, all still remain likeable.
I found this book fascinating, it was un-put-downable. Holmes manages to keep the tempo flowing from start to finish without ever flagging. He manages to tell the story convincingly from the perspective of a 26 year-old woman, which has to be a notable achievement from a man in (presumably) his mid-50s.
A cracking story, superbly written, utterly believable characters, a nod in the direction of some of America's finest entertainers from the 1950s, amusing throughout. If you enjoy the predictable, exaggerated, formula-driven nonsense papped out by the likes of Jeffrey Deaver or Wilbur Smith you will probably hate this.
Everything you may have heard about this book - whether from the Times of London or the Washington Post - is true. I will use the word 'sensational' here and solemly promise never to use it again.
There were more times than I can remember when I actually had to say to myself (aloud) "calm down, calm down". And not because of the mesmerising storyline but because of the sheer beauty and accomplishment of the writing, all the more so since the book is 'narrated' by a twenty-something female journalist.
As a bonus, not that one were really needed, Holmes has written the best sex scenes in modern fiction (I thought Jane Smiley had already done that in 'Good Faith').
But, strangely and astonishingly, it was only after some three hours had passed since finishing this modern masterpiece that I stopped dead in my tracks and the hair on my neck suddenly rose to attention. Earlier I had wondered how such a perfect evocation of grief and loss had come to be written. And there in the author's acknowledgments right at the end is the answer. A double-whammy indeed.
Drop everything else and read this now.
With its ironic and ambiguous title, this whodunit sets new standards for well developed, fast-paced writing, with its complex mysteries within mysteries, and a setting which comes vibrantly alive both in time and place. Set in 1970s Hollywood, "a place where dirt gets a paint job," the story focuses on showbiz stars Lanny Morris and Vince Collins, partners in a hugely successful act, and once best friends, who have not spoken in thirteen years. The Collins/Morris breakup occurred shortly after a beautiful, red-haired woman was found drowned in a bathtub in their hotel room while they were doing a telethon, and narrator O'Connor, a brash and well-endowed journalist who is planning to write a biography of Vince Collins, believes that this death is at the root of their breakup.
As the O'Connor investigates the victim, interviews Collins, meets with Morris and his attorneys (since Morris plans to write his own story), and flies from Hollywood to New York and Florida, author Holmes incorporates spot-on period detail to recreate the roiling world of high profile performers and the intensity of their high stakes lives. The uninhibited O'Connor will do just about anything to get close to her subjects, and her wryly cynical voice keeps the reader entertained with the story's shifts back and forth in time and location. Her willingness to flout convention and her refusal to become rattled by the escalating tension and threats to her safety provide humor at the same time that they show her to be smart and resourceful.
As one may guess from the title, truth and lies sometimes overlap, and surprise after surprise unfolds for the reader as O'Connor finds herself making assumptions, being proved wrong, making new assumptions based on her discoveries, and finding those wrong, too. None of the characters are quite who they seem to be, and as Holmes's witty and lightning-fast dialogue reveals surprises, his background as a writer for stage and television and his mastery of pacing are obvious.
One of the best modern mysteries in recent years, the story is beautifully crafted and filled with characters who seem realistic, despite their Hollywood facades and glitzy lives. Twists and turns occur throughout the book, not just at the conclusion, as Holmes alternates relatively quiet scenes with those full of action. Two "dinner scenes," each of which could compete with the famous banquet/seduction scene from 'Tom Jones,' add life and color, and the uninhibited and sometimes graphic sex seems consistent with the lifestyles of the Hollywood stars and the casual values of biographer O'Connor. A masterfully executed mystery, filled with wit and excitement. n Mary Whipple
on 24 July 2007
This is a dizzyingly accomplished thriller. Holmes writes with a slick panache and fluidity that many crime writers can only dream of, and his prose has a scythe-sharp wit that could slash flesh. The dialogue is full of spontaneity, wisecracks and sardonic observations, much like the best of Elmore Leonard, and his characters are convincing and fully formed. His heroine is a sassy, independent, bright female journalist trying to uncover the secrets of a past murder which may have involved one or both of a pair of now estranged entertainers, Vince Collins and Lanny Morris. The garish glitz of the seventies is vividly evoked, with the insincerity and plasticity of LA stimulating involuntary shudders and guffaws.Much of the heroine's quest involves delving into the lives of Collins and Morris in their heyday of the 50s and 60s, and the evocation of showbiz in those days - the glamour, the hypocricy, the groupies - is utterly compelling. Intriguing, entertaining, and hugely beguiling, this is a must for any crime fan.
Scary, sexy, witty and wicked - what a talent this man has! He sets this truly delicious thriller in the mid-70s, in New York and Los Angeles with a female writer delivering most of the narrative. O'Connor (no first name is ever given) has been given a brief to write the life story of Vince Collins, one half of a successful double act, who have years of variety, TV and films under their belt. It is inescapable - Vince Collins is the Dean Martin figure and Lanny Morris is Jerry Lewis - they are at the height of their careers, but something is coming apart in the glossy world of Hollywood stardom and our gorgeous young writer is about to be caught up in something much darker than she ever bargained for.
A young woman has died in a hotel room in New York, just as Collins and Morris are returning to the same hotel from the coast to take part in a National Telethon in aid of Polio victims. They are on TV at the time and of course, they cannot be implicated, but even so, a nasty smell lingers. It is from this moment that the double-act begins to fall apart. O'Connor meets up with Collins and is somewhat smitten, but it's not until she meets Lanny Morris, whilst posing as someone else, that sparks really begin to fly.
I loved this book - it is superb in every aspect - clever, devious, tremendously entertaining, and just when you think you know the secret at the heart of the Collins and Morris break-up, another twist leaves you agog for more. This is one of the most entertaining thrillers I've read this or any year.
on 16 September 2012
Just finished reading this, having found it on a 2nd hand book shelf in the local shop. Wow, but it was a good read. The narrator is a woman, O'Connor, who is a (1970's?) journalist intending to write a book about Vince and Lanny, a double act reminiscent of Dean Martin and Jerry whatsisname, whose act turns sour after their fourth telethon in aide of Polio victims and just before they find a dead woman in their hotel suite. Now, 20 years on, Vince needs the money, but will he spill the beans? What a spectacularly well written book, with twists and turns and enough 'noir' to keep any self respecting Marlow , or indeed Ellory, fan happy. Such a great change from the standard Trashy crime thriller fayre, without a warped serial killer in sight (that's a good thing).
on 29 June 2007
A sexy, thrilling and exiciting novel full of darkness and depth and with plenty of suspense to keep you turning the pages. Beautifully written, a must read for any fans of thrilling crime novels!
on 8 August 2013
This is one of my favourite novels as well as one of my favourite movies. Rupert Holmes is also one of my favourite authors. Whether this story was based on the partnership of Dean Martin and Jerry Lewis I don't know but I found it a very interesting read with lots of twists and turns. I always like novels with a Hollywood background especially set in the 40's, 50's and 60's when I was growing up. For the same reason I like Megan Abbott's novels as well.
I couldn't put it down and couldn't wait to get to the end and I just like his writing style. Thoroughly recommended.