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JONATHAN FAST
The Inner Circle


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Magnum, London, 1980
(first published in the USA by Delacorte Press, 1979)
price: 1.25; 284 pages

dedication: For Scott Waugh and in memory of his brother, Stuart, and the San Francisco days.


The blurb on the back:

1977: TV star and gifted actor is killed in a car crash that looks like suicide.
1967: a gorgeous blonde actress, sex-symbol of an age, dies from drugs.
1957: young teenage idol shoots himself with a gun he thought unloaded.
Every ten years since Hollywood's silent days, film superstars had died in mysterious circumstances, a sacrifice on the altar of fame ... Was it chance, or coincidence?
It was Tony Valenti who died in 1977. He had begged his friend, Louis Pinkle to help him. But Louis was too late.
Louis' incredible investigation of Tony's mysterious death and the sinister Inner Circle took him from the golden streets of Los Angeles to the darkest heart of the Mexican jungle.
A stunningly inventive thriller of Hollywood's secret history.


opening lines:
One summer night Tony Valenti came banging on the door of my West Hollywood apartment, panting for breath and raving about murder.


Well, it's certainly trash, but it's good trash. As a thriller, it's as clunky as Jimmy Savile, with every new development and discovery depending almost entirely on happenstance: Need some information about a long-forgotten star of the silent movies? Don't worry. The guy standing next to you is probably a film student doing a doctoral thesis on precisely that subject.

Still, we've got a lot of material to get through in just 274 pages, so we haven't got time to hang around doing things the realistic way. We've got to account for the rise and rise of the Hollywood star system, we've got to uncover the greatest conspiracy theory this side of the Rosicrucians, and we've got to put the 'cult' back into American culture. It's a broad agenda, and inevitably we're not going to have time for all the details.

So what we get is an immensely readable, high speed romp that moves so fast you won't worry about noticing the joins. In short, a fine piece of work that scarcely bothers to disguise its allegory of the corruption of fame:

Agents and managers have this in common with the devil. They all know which offer will crumble the most adamant resolve. (p.267)


ARTISTIC MERIT: 2/5
ENTERTAINMENT VALUE:
3/5
HIPNESS QUOTIENT:
2/5


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