Monday, March 23, 2015
Deadly Farce, by Jennifer McAndrews
I received a loaner copy of this book for review from The Real McChuck, a fellow Mad Genius Club fan, and a friend of the author's husband. I specifically asked to borrow this book, because I've reviewed nothing but F&SF for so long, I wanted to try my hand on something else.
(Ummm...now that I think about it, I realize that the wicked, wicked authors at MGC made me read some other stuff as well, notably Farmhands by Liliana Begley (Cedar Sanderson's pen name), but I still love them.)
Here's the plot: Lorraine, or Rainny to her friends, works security for a firm in New Jersey. She's relatively new to the company, and so she's the one who gets sent to guard museums, warehouses, and porch swings in the pale moonlight, while her more senior colleagues get the prestige jobs as body guards for Very Important People. This changes when Shepard, an old friend from WAY back, now a major movie star, calls her and asks if she come to a movie set in Atlantic City and keep him from getting killed. It seems when they were in school together, he was a shrimp, and she rather accidently stepped in a few times to protect him, so now he has an image of her as a super hero.
Major characters are:
Lorraine, the hero. She is a TRULY nice person. In fact, she's so nice, that her friends take advantage of her good nature, and often will get her to do something she doesn't really want to do. On the other hand, she refuses to get pushed around by people who aren't her friends, which includes most of the other people in the book.
Barb, Lorraine's buddy. She is a high school teacher, and since the action takes place in the summer, she's on vacation and is available to act as a sort of side-kick. She's the person Lorraine goes to when she needs information on what's happening in Movie Land. Barb knows the players, and what she doesn't know, she will research. The down side to Barb is that she is fascinated by the actors.
Shepard, the movie star and Lorraine's friend from way back. He thinks someone is trying to kill him, so he wants her protection, but he is rather a bit of a spoiled brat. In fact, there were moments when I rather hoped that he WOULD get killed, because he acts like such a jerk to those around him. He won't give Lorraine all the information she needs, won't cooperate with her instructions on keeping safe, and seems oblivious to the fact that his problems come directly or indirectly from his own actions. The only sympathetic aspect to the guy, in fact, is that Lorraine likes him.
Eddy, another movie star, friends with Shepard and Lorraine's secret weakness. He is an astoundingly nice person, despite being an actor. Seems like a Bruce Willis to me, but that's not based on any physical description, just the impact he has on Lorraine.
Assorted crazy Hollywood types. There are bullying directors, wacko actresses, and an occasional hint of agents.
Decent, hard working support staff. These tend to be likable people, not caught up in the fame game, who are getting the job done in spite of rain, snow, sleet, gloom of night, or crazy wacko Personalities.
The characters are very well done. The mystery is well-written, and I didn't know whodunnit until the reveal scene. Interestingly, there's no gun play, and Lorraine bemoans the fact that state law prohibits her from carrying.
I took longer to read this than I usually do, because of circumstances. That was not a bad thing, at all. It spread the experience out longer. However, I have a feeling that this is a book that could very easily deprive you of some sleep, if you start it too late in the evening. It's worth staying up past midnight, though. And do try not to do that if you have work in the morning, okay?