“And so you left your hometown
To try out for the part
Everybody’s pretty little angel
With a pretty little heart”
- Melissa Etheridge, Map of the Stars
Hollywood has always been that elusive locale folks dream of running off to – a place where stardom, acceptance, and wonderful weather are easily, and eternally, within one’s grasp. But Hollywood also has a dark underbelly – a place of facades and facelifts, where it seems everyone is out to take advantage of the naïve and each decision seems destined to rot away innocence. It is into the midst of this duplicitous location that James W. Ziskin chooses to drop Ellie Stone is his latest series novel, Cast the First Stone.
Denise Mina’s The Long Drop is a unique book in the crime fiction genre. Not quite true crime, but also not a fictional tale, The Long Drop is somewhat similar to the method Truman Capote used with In Cold Blood – fiction inspired by actual events. However you classify it, The Long Drop is a well-written account of both a diabolical criminal and some of the oddities within his story.
When a writer sets out to tell a very timely story with direct correlation to current events, it can be a tricky endeavor. For most, reading is viewed as a pastime, an entertainment if you will, and being bombarded with depressing current affairs can sometimes alter that enjoyment. However, when done well – as it is in Brian Freeman’s Marathon – a topical novel can still be enjoyable while also being educational without becoming heavy-handed and didactic.