L.a. Times Hardcover – Large Print, Sep 1993
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From Publishers Weekly
Prolific crime writer Woods is back in form with a propulsive thriller featuring a movie mogul embroiled in multiple murders. While his last effort, the disappointing Santa Fe Rules , had a similar plot trajectory, Woods succeeds here with the help of a dynamic protagonist whose ambitions fuel a wild ride and an explosive ending. Vincente Michaele Callabrese works as a shake-down artist for the mob in New York City's Little Italy, but moviegoing is his passion. Early in the story, he changes his name to Michael Vincent and makes a break for L.A., where with the help of powerful studio head Leo Goldman he fufills his dream of becoming a big-time producer. Vincent's cosa nostra connections keep in touch, particularly old pal Tommy Provenzano, whose rise to power in New York parallels Vincent's in Hollywood. Eventually, Vincent's desire to bring a gentle turn-of-the-century novel to the screen leads him to employ the sorts of techniques and friends that served him in his mafia days. Cinematic triumph follows, but so does trouble. After so much absorbing Hollywood intrigue, the mob-style violence of the novel's last chapters seems almost anti-climactic. Readers will have few complaints, however, having been eminently entertained by the abundant suspense Woods creates as he depicts this licentious, adulterous and violent milieu. 100,000 first printing; $200,000 ad/promo; author tour. (May) .
Copyright 1993 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
From Kirkus Reviews
Woods--an off-again (Santa Fe Rules, etc.), on-again (New York Dead, etc.) writer--is very much on here, turning his big weakness- -stagnant characters--into a strength. In this enjoyably high- sleaze potboiler about a mafioso who conquers Hollywood, there's no need for character growth: Every member of the cast is a blackhearted villain, and the great fun is watching them claw each other as the author spins out one unexpected twist, loop, and climax after another. ``You have the single most important quality that a successful producer can possess...you are a complete sociopath.'' When his sexy assistant says that to Michael Vincent, she isn't kidding. Born Vincente Michaele Callabrese in N.Y.C., Michael is a mob- connected hustler who parlays his passion for movies into fame and fortune when he bankrolls a superior indie feature that lands him a producing deal at a top studio--and never mind that he has to kill two fellow mafiosi to get the funds for the film. In L.A., the comer wallows in the lavish life, investing his money with a loan- shark. When the rights-holder on the novel he plans to film next refuses to sell, Michael calls on his old mob-pal Tommy Pro for help, leading to the release of the rights--but only through a murder that leaves Michael's fingerprints at the scene. A nosy cop realizes that Michael's guilt, so the producer simply buys him out- -and kills him after a second blackmail attempt. And so Michael leaps up the ladder--conning actors and writers, ruining lives, cuckolding and then killing his boss--but always making good films (and winning a Best Picture Oscar for one), until his greed gets him in trouble with Tommy Pro, who's now a Mafia don--and who arranges the harsh yet poetically just fate that closes the book on Michael. With a villain as charismatically coldblooded as this one, who needs a hero? Not Woods--and not readers of this devilishly entertaining thriller. (First printing of 100,000) -- Copyright ©1993, Kirkus Associates, LP. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.See all Product Description
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Top Customer Reviews
The plot elements, style, and setting are standard-issue Stuart Woods: Lots of glitz, lots of five- and six-figure props, lots of sex, and occasional forays into murder and other forms of misbehavior. It all thunders along at 90 miles an hour, and (as it does) gives good value for your money. The main character is more dynamic than is typical for Woods, which is all for the good.
So far so good. Why, then, only three stars (since I'm rating it compared to other disposable thrillers, not compared to Faulkner)? The problem, oddly enough, is the main character.
Woods gives us a classic crime-thriller setup: A smart bad guy who thinks he's figured out a way to beat the system. The problem is that he's done the setup *so* well that the payoff, when it comes, doesn't satisfy either on a gut level or on the level of plot mechanics. Repeatedly, in the last third of the book, Vinnie/Michael seems to act without thinking things through--unbelievable for the smart guy Woods has set up in the first two-thirds.
That said, it's a measure of Woods' craftsmanship that L. A. Times is *still* a great disposable thriller. Recommended for movie and those with long plane trips coming up.
Woods either did his homework on the Mafia and Hollywood, or he's involved in one or both of them. All the dialogue rang true, and the situations were realistic and believable (with the possible exceptions of Vinnie's rocket ride to the top of the heap and the immediate Oscar). I particularly admire Vinnie's friend Tommy's hamhanded approach to getting an option on a literary property. The irony was thick and deep, too, as when our hero takes a break from his frenzy of promiscuity to make a donation to an AIDS charity.
I can see how women might not like Woods' writing on sexuality. What are the odds that Vinnie would meet three nymphomaniacs in a row? Then again, it must be kept in mind that Woods specializes in the male version of the romance novel.
What I liked best about LA Times was the deromanticizing of both the Mafia and Hollywood. Woods builds up the Vinnie/Tommy relation as though in a buddy picture: young up-and-comers bonded together by their criminal past. Then it comes to light that Tommy 'made such a mess' of a prostitute that Vinnie got for him in L.A., that the woman is in the hospital and 'may never look the same again'. Really glamorous.Read more ›
Most recent customer reviews
I JUST FINISHED READING L.A. TIMES, AND THOUGHT THAT MOST OF OF BOOK WAS VERY GOOD,BUT THE ENDING WELL CAME UP A LITTLE SHORT. Read morePublished on Feb. 27 2000
L.A. Times by Stuart Woods is amazing. This novel is written in a way that really does not let you put it down. The action and suspense is unrelenting. Read morePublished on June 13 1998
This book was not what I had expected from one of my favorite authors. It started out alright, but the ending was not up to the ability of Mr. Woods. Hopefully next time.Published on Feb. 21 1998