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Eyes of Laura Mars

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Corgi, London, 1978
(price: 85p; 224 pages)

dedication: For Hope, Faith & Charity - Elly, John & Jess, with love.

The blurb on the back:

No two people 'see' exactly alike. But she alone was cursed with the power and the vision of the ...

SHE is a chic, dazzling, high-fashion photographer whose lens captures fantastic images of silken eroticism and passionate cruelty.
HE is a cop ... handsome, strong, and fiercely opposed to anyone who glamourises mindless violence.
Linda Mars and John Neville - two very different people, two very different worlds. Yet only together can they hope to survive the terrors to come. For, through her eyes, they can glimpse the macabre events in the future - her eyes are the psychic connection between life and death.

opening lines:
The table on which the book lay was too orderly. That was the first thing that Laura noticed.

Okay, here's the set-up. Laura Mars is a high-art photographer who discovers that - by some absurd accident of empathy - she finds herself on occasion literally seeing through the eyes of another person. Regrettably, that other person is a psycho-killer and the occasions tend to be premonitions of his activities when he's out on a job.

That's it. There ain't no more. On screen, they got away with it by getting the wonderful Faye Dunaway in as the star and by filling the whole thing with high gloss superficiality (the photos of Ms Mars were actually taken by Helmut Newton - that's how shallow it is.) But even then it was touch and go, and if the original casting of Barbara Streisand had gone ahead, it would have sunk without trace. Instead it's a big budget pseudo-soft-porn movie that's still quite highly regarded by some.

So anyway, not much of a story. But what there is was written by John Carpenter, just coming off an incredible streak of movie-making and at the time one of Hollywood's hottest properties. In fact if Carpenter had died in 1978, he'd be remembered as the auteur James Dean, with his first three works - Dark Star, Assault on Precinct 13, Halloween - revered by film fans for ever. What we didn't realize back then was that he was suffering from Mendelssohn Syndrome, and that it was all downhill from here on in.

Carpenter and Zelag Goodman collaborated to write the screenplay from the story, and HB Gilmour was commissioned to write the novel. You'll remember Ms Gilmore from Pretty In Pink, but here we get some more detail, of which I'd like to share a little:

HB Gilmour's first novel, The Trade, was published in 1973... In 1977 she dug back into her Brooklyn roots and wrote the novel based on the screenplay for the highly successful movie, Saturday Night Fever. For Eyes of Laura Mars, Ms Gilmour combined her extensive knowledge of the workings of the contemporary New York scene with on-location observations of the film's star, Faye Dunaway, and discussions with producer Jon Peters to capture and enlarge upon the bizarre and fascinating elements of the story.

Which is all very well, but the story's way too flimsy to sustain a novel in excess of 200 pages.


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