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The Cutting Room [Hardcover]

Laurence Klavan
4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (8 customer reviews)
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Book Description

Feb. 3 2004
Like the hero in a classic Hitchcock thriller, the innocent movie buff at the center of this witty and suspenseful novel finds his ordinary life suddenly transformed when he’s plunged into a harrowing game of intrigue, duplicity, and danger. Spurred into a frantic race from New York to Hollywood to Barcelona and back, he’ll encounter enough hairpin twists, shocking surprises, white-knuckle tension, and sinister characters to give even the master of suspense himself a serious case of vertigo. But in this scenario, the mayhem and murder are all too real.

Self-proclaimed movie geek and divorced thirtysomething Roy Milano lives alone in a cramped Manhattan apartment, toiling as a freelancer to make ends meet. It’s a life perfectly suited to the creator of Trivial Man, Roy’s self-published newsletter—filled with tidbits of little-known Tinseltown lore for the delight of other fringe-dwelling cinemaphiles. And it’s a tantalizing phone call from one such kindred spirit that thrusts Roy headlong into his waking noir nightmare.

“I’ve got The Magnificent Ambersons,” declares Alan Gilbert, host of a homemade cable-TV show about the silver screen, who now claims to possess the rarest of the rare: the long-lost and never-released complete print of Orson Welles’s classic follow-up to Citizen Kane. But when Roy arrives at his fellow movie maven’s abode to sneak a peek at celluloid history, the front door is ominously open, Alan Gilbert is dead, and The Magnificent Ambersons is nowhere in sight. Even though the cops arrest a local drug addict for the murder, Roy knows they’re wrong—because the theft of the movie masterpiece points to a different kind of junkie. The kind Roy knows only too well . . . and the kind he’s certain only he can catch.

But Roy Milano is no Sam Spade, even if he does run into more gun-toting goons, sucker punches, and double-crosses than Bogey on a busy day. And the suspects prove to be anything but usual—including a bodybuilding film fanatic obsessed with bizarre rumors about an A-list actress, a rotund reporter who holds Hollywood in thrall via red-hot Internet dispatches from his parents’ basement, and a starstruck street punk with a thousand voices. And then there’s the transatlantic love triangle that finds Roy caught between his very own eager Gal Friday and a sultry Spanish siren with a stunning secret. But when the bodies start to fall faster than a box-office bomb, Roy must cut to the chase in his perilous quest to save the Holy Grail of cinema—and unmask a killer—before everything fades to black.

Product Details

Product Description

From Publishers Weekly

In 1984, writing under the pseudonym Margaret Tracy, Klavan won the Edgar Award for Best Paperback Original for Mrs. White. Nowtwo decades later and best known as the librettist for the Obie Award-winning musical Bed and Sofa-Klavan has produced this wry, whimsically romantic crime novel. Brimming with engaging tidbits of movie trivia, it is narrated in the self-effacing voice of its bumbling, endearing hero, Roy Milano, publisher of Trivial Man, a cultish movie trivia newsletter sold through bookstores and video outlets around the Big Apple. (To make ends meet, Roy freelances as a typesetter.) Receiving a call from the host of a cable TV film trivia show who claims he has the never-released uncut original of Orson Welles's masterpiece The Magnificent Ambersons, Roy rushes across town to find the host murdered and the film missing. Obsessed with finding this long-lost magnum opus and believing the murderer intends to deliver it to Ben Williams (aging action film star of the Cause Pain series, who wants to remake Orson Welles's Citizen Kane), Roy-with a simpatico female companion-follows the trail to L.A. and stumbles on another murder. From L.A., Williams sends Roy to Barcelona to find Erendira, the beautiful actress who Williams claims has stolen the film. In Spain, Roy discovers evidence linking Erendira intimately to Orson Welles. Then Williams is murdered and Roy returns to L.A. to negotiate more twists than a Mulholland Drive tour bus driver. This tongue-in-cheek whodunit marks the long overdue second coming of a gifted novelist.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From Booklist

Roy Milano, publisher of a movie-trivia newsletter, like his loose-knit community of "trivial people," lives more in the movies than real life. But when a cinematic holy grail surfaces--Orson Welles' legendary original cut of The Magnificent Ambersons, thought to have been lost forever--the "hard-boiled nerd" is desperate to retrieve it and soon finds himself enmeshed in a real-life mystery with a movielike plot. A murder in New York's trivial community leads to L.A and an action star planning to remake Citizen Kane, then to Barcelona in search of a beautiful, mysterious bit player. Milano is an engaging character, from his self-deprecating self-assessment to his compulsive habit of remembering film trivia when he gets nervous. And Klavan's touch is playful and deft, which is good because his target, Hollywood, is an oft-pricked one. But if skewering the rich and shallow is easy sport, many readers will nonetheless agree with the hero that movies often need to be saved from those who make them. A great bit of escapism for film and mystery buffs alike. Keir Graff
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved

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FLASHBACKS WERE INVENTED IN THE SILENT-MOVIE era, probably by D. W. Griffith. Read the first page
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Customer Reviews

4.2 out of 5 stars
4.2 out of 5 stars
Most helpful customer reviews
When a fellow movie trivia buff tells Roy Milano he's found the holy grail of film--the original director's cut of Orson Welles's Magnificent Ambersons, Roy can hardly wait to see the screening. But when he arrives at his friends house, he finds the movie gone and his friend murdered. Now Roy sets out on a mission--to find the movie and see it for himself. If he can help find the actual killer, so much the better. Working his way through the slightly weird clan of fellow trivia buffs, and soon joined by one of the rare attractive females in the group, Roy heads to Hollywood, Spain, and Boston in search of the elusive movie.
It doesn't take Roy long to realize that he's onto something major. He seems to run into fists at least as often as clues, but he also finds people who think he knows more than he does--and who are willing to give him money to help them find what they want. Because outside of the narrow world of old-film cultists, the Magnificent Ambersons is simply another ancient flick. Roy's single-minded obsession nearly gets him killed--which makes him better off than most of the people he comes in contact with. Eventually Roy tracks down the movie, but having it only increases the danger.
Author Laurence Klavan dishes up an over-the-top adventure with an unlikely trivia-nerd hero who, nevertheless, manages to be sympathetic and even get his share of the girls. Fast-paced action, badly flawed characters, and America's obsession with the movie industry provide plenty of reader interest. Klavan's high-quality writing held my interest and kept me turning the pages--I read the entire book in one sitting. The twist at the end worked for me--adding to the emotional impact of a fine novel.
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4.0 out of 5 stars A Witty and Suspenseful Novel That is Fun to Read March 6 2004
Reading is a compulsory activity for some of us. I'm addicted; I almost always have to be reading something --- whether I'm listening to music, watching television, eating, waiting, talking on the telephone or, ah, driving. Not a good idea I know. I'm trying to cut back, but it's tough. As with a great many compulsions, reading started out being fun --- in my case, Dick Tracy comic books at the local drugstore --- and has taken on a life of its own. It's still fun and enjoyable, of course, but those elements take an almost secondary role, and it's tough getting started on a 12-step program with reading when your higher power is Random House. Once in a while, however, you pick up a book that reminds you that reading is supposed to be FUN. And that brings us to THE CUTTING ROOM by Laurence Klavan.
This is an almost noir mystery that doesn't take itself too seriously. It revolves around Roy Milano, a New York City film aficionado who is a self-styled expert in all things celluloid. Milano finds himself unexpectedly drawn into danger and intrigue when he is invited by Alan Gilbert, an acquaintance and rival, to witness a private screening of a legendary, long lost film: the complete, unreleased print of Orson Welles's The Magnificent Ambersons. Milano arrives at Gilbert's apartment only to find his erstwhile host dead and the film gone. Milano's compulsion --- compulsions really make the world go round, don't they? --- leads him on a wild chase across the country to Los Angeles, then halfway around the world to Barcelona and back again, all in pursuit of a film whose existence is at best apocryphal.
Milano introduces fellow film buffs along the way, broadly drawn eccentrics, and you will recognize at least one of them within your own circle of friends.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Breezy Fun Feb. 11 2004
By A. Ross
This breezy thriller has all the ingredients to be a surefire success: a Hitchcockian everyman thrust into the role of detective, a beautiful foreign lass, a host of colorful supporting characters, a rapid-fire globetrotting pace that moves between New York, Hollywood, and Barcelona, and, of course, the MacGuffin. Which is not to suggest that this is a wonderful book. Rather, it is a good beach or airplane book, the perfect witty read for movie buffs who want to sit back and be entertained in print. Set in the world of film trivia mavens, the story concerns the search for a legendary unseen complete print of Orson Welles' film The Magnificent Ambersons. Roy is a movie nerd in his later 30s who is caught up in some very deadly business, as the story wends its way from the computer strewn bedroom of am internet rumormonger (a thinly veiled Harry Knowles of Ain't It Cool News fame) to the Hollywood Hills trysting pad of an action movie star (a thinly veiled Bruce Willis clone), and into the beds of several women. It's all put together in a very snappy, pulpy style, right down to the socks in the jaw, and the double-crossing dames. Just like a decent movie, the book will keep you cheerfully diverted for two hours and then fade quickly from memory.
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The highest compliment that I can pay "The Cutting Room" is my gut sense that Orson Welles would probably have relished filming it! And what a vehicle it could make for Woody Allen! However, in its present form, mystery readers and film buffs alike should rejoice that Edgar-winning author Laurence Klavan has chosen to make his hardcover debut with this wonderfully off-the-wall thriller that so faithfully echoes the cinematic characters and devices its ingenious plot celebrates. What's especially intriguing is that he has created such a likeable anti-hero in Roy Milano that we're...or, at least, I certainly was...perfectly willing to make his priorities our own. In a nutshell, Roy is obsessed with the movies. Ever since his wife left him for refusing to abandon his reel world in favor of her more down-to-earth one, he has happily immersed himself in the counter-culture of movie trivia addicts, a culture that is preoccupied not only with what was, but with what might have been. Long-lost, missing footage from Welles' post "Kane" masterpiece, "The Magnificent Ambersons", is "...the stuff that dreams are made of..." for such devoutees. When Roy receives a call from obnoxious Alan Gilbert, self-subsidized TV film maven, announcing that he has a copy of the uncut version, Roy races over to Alan's studio only to arrive too late: Alan has a knife in his heart; the movie has disappeared; sinister Gus Ziegler has been seen leaving the premises, and the chase is on. At this point, the plot not only thickens, it metamorphosizes into something quite rare and very strange indeed. In the best tradition of noir gumshoes, Roy and his 'trivial friend' Jeanine trail Ziegler to Hollywood. Read more ›
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