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Earthquake Weather [Hardcover]

Terrill Lee Lankford
4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)

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Book Description

April 27 2004
A veteran filmmaker and novelist now creates a riveting noir set in the power-mad jungle of Hollywood. In Earthquake Weather a natural disaster shakes a city and an industry to their cores, revealing new layers of deceit, desire, and deadly aggression.

Hollywood. The land of dreams and schemes. Mark Hayes has a dream. To make movies. But that’s easier wished for than done. Years of frustrating career moves have yielded little progress and Mark now finds himself in a dead end job as a “creative executive” for the loathsome producer, Dexter Morton at Prescient Pictures, the hottest new production company in town. A job like that could lead to big things—but Dexter Morton has no interest in promoting Mark’s ambitions. Then a major earthquake rocks Los Angeles and all deals are off. And when Mark finds a body floating in Dexter’s pool he goes from D-Boy to murder suspect before he can say “three picture deal”.

In the interest of self-preservation Mark must find out who the true killer is before he is jailed or becomes the next victim. The list of suspects is long: The hot young screenwriter who has been fired from his own project, the director of Prescient Pictures’ most recent film who will do anything for final cut, the re-write man who has been toiling in anonymity for years because he passed forty ages ago, the wanna-be actress who would do anything—and anyone— for stardom, the blackmailing producer who knows more about the staff of Prescient Pictures than anyone wants to admit.

As the noose tightens around the guilty and innocent alike, tensions rise and the earth rumbles. No one can trust the ground they walk on or the people they work with. In a town where power and control can shift suddenly, everyone wants credit for everything—except, of course, murder.

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Product Description

From Publishers Weekly

Filmmaker Lankford serves up an insider's view of Hollywood in this entertaining crime drama about a producer wannabe who gets ensnarled in a murder plot. Mark Hayes has been kicking around the movie industry for more than 15 years with little to show for it. Now in his mid-30s-old for Hollywood-he toils as a creative executive, fancy talk for a "development boy, as we were called by the disrespectful," screening scripts for his hateful boss, Dexter Morton. Although he's had one huge hit, Morton is despised throughout the industry for his two-faced dealings. When he's found floating face down in his swimming pool-his "giant, hairy tarantula" of toupee clogging the filter-nobody really mourns except his now out-of-work employees. As the police drag through their investigation, Hayes decides to launch his own probe, partly out of boredom and partly because he finds himself near the top of the cops' suspect list: after all, Morton had stolen his girl and Hayes found the body. But there's no shortage of suspects; Morton left a trail of bitter screenwriters, producers and even creative executives. Lankford (Angry Moon) shows lively wit and characterizations, and he shines in skewering the practices and personalities of the film industry. Though the story falters when Lankford leaves the entertainment world and steers the action down a more predictable path of drugs and violence, this is a fast, fun read.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From Booklist

In a neat twist on the ending of Nathanael West's Day of the Locust, veteran filmmaker Lankford starts his Hollywood noir with a taste of Armageddon--not West's surreal fire next time but the all-too-real L.A. earthquake of 1994. Suffering from post-quake shell shock, Mark Hayes, D-Boy (or script reader) for schlocky producer Dexter Morton, finds his career in tatters, just like his quake-damaged apartment in the Valley. Then he finds a body floating in Dexter's pool and becomes a murder suspect. Along with a motley crew of similarly dysfunctional cronies, including a washed-up writer who spouts cliches about "killing creativity for a paycheck," Mark slouches toward Armageddon or a jail cell, whichever comes first. Lankford nails the updated noir mood, and he fills the tale with juicy insider stuff about the "industry" (like the fact that nobody says the "industry" anymore). It all seems a little like old news, but that's the thing about burned-out Hollywood. West's ashes have been smoldering a long time, and Lankford does his best to fan the flames. Bill Ott
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved

Customer Reviews

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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars weather report July 2 2004
Format:Hardcover
Terrill Lankford fulfills and exceeds all genre expectations in his compelling noir, EARTHQUAKE WEATHER ... it is believable in its details about the world and workings of Hollywood, darkly funny in its take on that world, complex and wise in its handling of its varied cast of characters. It has a cynical surface, as any Hollywood novel should have, but under that surface lies a core of compassion as deep as the San Andreas fault. The movie references are organic and relevant to the mystery, and are fun as well. Mark Hayes is a complex narrator, a post-millennium hero, who leads the reader through the maze of this murder mystery with wit and style, and in the creation of Charity James, Lankford pulls off an authentically erotic female character who is not a cliche. EARTHQUAKE WEATHER is the true heir to SUNSET BOULEVARD, and a worthy one.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Wry Hollywood Noir with a WOW! Finish! May 14 2004
Format:Hardcover
Mark Hayes has no desire to be in the movies; he just wants to make them...HIS way! He has a dream; he has talent and experience, but after fifteen years of trying to cut himself a slice of cinematic production pie, he not only can't seem to catch a break, but what little luck he has had has been all bad. When this unforgettable noir chiller opens, he's on shaky ground in more ways than one. LA (including his vintage apartment in the San Fernando Valley) has just been rocked by a major earthquake, and all hell is breaking loose on the Warner Bros lot where he and his neurotic co-worker, Alex Richards, are somewhat tenuously employed as creative executives aka D-(for development)-boys by (...) slimy, utterly ruthless but currently hot producer, Dexter Morton. His immediate situation does have one upside. While it costs him his womanizing roommate, the earthquake has given him a chance to finally meet his neighbors who will soon become his friends and allies: former premier-script-writer, Clyde McCoy; mysterious, ganja-smoking T. Zimmerman ('Zim"); and attractive, reclusive Becky Osterhage. Unfortunately, the quake also gave Morton time to take a good look at the script for his next production, and now he's on the rampage. Mark had figured if he could just manage to cope with Morton's abusive behaviors, he might be able to ride his coat-tails long enough to parlay a dead end job and a loser's image into a ticket to ride on his own. However, his plans to keep his cool at all costs start to unravel when Dexter fires its original author and coerces Mark into mavening a ghost-writing deal with a local hack to revise the script with some very illegal money involved. Read more ›
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5.0 out of 5 stars fun Hollywood insider amateur sleuth April 29 2004
Format:Hardcover
In recent years Los Angeles has been the epicenter of disasters with an earthquake to add to the list but thirty-five years old Mark Hayes would live no where else. That is work no where else as he actually lives in Sherman Oaks. Mark would like to have had some success with his career at Warner Brothers, but though a creative executive, he has no film credit to his name. Instead he critiques cerebral dumbing scripts.
Much of Hollywood detests Mark's boss producer Dexter Morton, who enjoys their hatred and flaunts it by inviting those who find him an abomination to parties he host because they always come. The morning after Dexter's latest bashing bash, Mark finds his boss dead in the swimming pool. The police feel Mark is the leading suspect though Charity James, the former girlfriend of Mark's studio peer is also high on the casting list. Mark and Charity begin seeking the truth from a clichéd Hollywood B movie with too many subplots to make it on the screen, but this is real life and a happy ending is not necessarily in the script.
Using the 1994 earthquake to set the stage, Terrill Lee Lankford provides an insider amateur sleuth novel with a pinch of a police procedural tale. The story line uses real events in the background; yet the prime thread is low key as Dexter's struggles with his boss (dead and alive) and his lack of success. This is similar to Jackie Collins' delightful Hollywood novels, but with an emphasis on the likeable with no empathy antihero's feeling sorry for himself woes as he faces middle age with nothing but police trouble on his filmography.
Harriet Klausner
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4.0 out of 5 stars One of the better Hollywood comedic-noirs... May 31 2004
Format:Hardcover
Ok, maybe this book isn't comedic by nature, but some of it is laugh out loud funny. I don't mean that that is laughably bad, I mean that some of Lankford's dialogue is just that good. The may not be strikingly original but I will say that the story flys by and really hits the film industry in the solar plexus. The characters are solid and Clyde McCoy has some superior lines. His analysis of the fall of Hollywood (actually of his own career) is not only on the mark, but more geniunely heartbreaking than any of the deaths in the book. The character of Charity is meant to represent a type and it does that, but she isn't someone you naturally want to cheer for. I guess Hollywood does that you. And, the end was just great. Very much like an old movie. You can't beat it.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Dark and funny May 4 2004
By A Customer
Format:Hardcover
One line typifies the author's cynical vision of Hollywood: after the 1994 Northridge earthquake, the narrator notes that the destruction has caused people to re-evaluate their lives and buy new glassware.
I read that, stopped, read it again. And laughed. Lankford's humor sneaks up on you like that in a finely wrought story of frustrated ambition that seems quintessentially American.
The PW et al. reviews tell enough of the story, but they don't truly communicate how authentic this feels, how deeply revelatory it is of the machinations film people not only take for granted, but assume are life itself.
BTW, there is absolutely nothing about this book that makes it remotely like Jackie Collins as another reviewer believes, because Lankford knows how to write.
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