Author: Vladimir Chernozemsky
In Goodbye Evilwood: The Murders In Tinseltown, Vladimir Chernozemsky offers us a glimpse of the sleazy and sordid side of Hollywood with his tale of the murder of a ballerina. This is a semi-true story as Chernozemsky mentions in his Preface, names and a few places have been changed, some more than others, however the main facts are established history, his own experiences and those of his Hollywood friends and acquaintances.
The novel opens with Peter Arvad, who is an acting coach at Morrozoff Productions, frolicking in the nude on a private beach in Malibu with his students Fay Stratton, Hans Von Clyde and his twin brother Manuel, as well as with several young teenagers-sons and daughters of the rich and powerful. Fay is a kind of sexual goddess who has a mesmerizing effect on her many admirers including Arvad-all vying for her favors.
At the heart of the plot is the death of Thea Stockton, who initially is mistaken for Fay Stratton due to the fact that the body is discovered in the latter’s bungalow. Apparently, Stockton lived in an apartment across from Arvad and his wife Jane and when Arvad was called upon to identify the body, he lied and stated that it was Fay Stratton and not Thea Stockton. The cause of death is not immediately known however, Fay Stratton along with a partner of Morrozoff Productions, where Arvad teaches, have mysteriously disappeared. Assigned to the case is Detective Charlie Reason from the Los Angeles Homicide Division who is not very impressed with the shenanigans of Arvad’s employer, Morrozoff Productions which he believes to be nothing more than a scam attracting naïve students and possibly exploiting them for their own sexual escapades. Apparently, prior to Arvad’s joining the staff of the company, a certain well-known Hollywood celebrity by the name of Roman had occupied his post. Roman had to leave the USA in a hurry, taking refuge in Europe. Need I say more, particularly if you are aware of some of the shocking Hollywood activities that transpired in the 1960s and 70s and which still crop up.
As our story progresses the twin brothers Hans and Manuel likewise disappear. Moreover, students from Morrozoff’s acting school with their parents begin lodging all kinds of complaints against the school which eventually leads to its closure. Arvad is somehow suspected in the murder of Stockton; however, Detective Reason is not convinced of his guilt as there is no motive to connect him with the crime. The detective even goes to the extent of tracking down the missing twins, Hans and Manuel in Brazil, where they originally lived, in order that they may help him solve the murder and exonerate Arvad. At the same time, Arvad’s wife Jane who is older than her husband, vows to stand by him and engages a high powered attorney from New York to make sure her husband is not convicted of a crime he didn’t commit. Jane is also aware of the adulterous behavior of her husband however, as she is madly in love with him, she chooses to look the other way. An unexpected tragedy ends the novel with a series of some surprising happenings.
Chernozemsky has made the most of his years of experience on the Hollywood scene and although some of the goings-on that are painted in his latest novel may seem a trifle surreal, they are nevertheless recognizable for those who are conscious of the demented and lurid aspects of the coming and goings of some of Hollywood’s celebrities. Chernozemsky weaves together a briskly paced mystery with the mandatory elements of detecting and peril with the uncanny skill and knack for dropping captivating clues into the narrative and placing them into the heads of his readers letting them puzzle over them at their own pace. In the end, the novel does live up to the promise of its title, Goodbye Evilwood: The Murders In Tinseltown, and then some, with a behind-the-scenes story of young hopeful actors caught up in a web of decadence and deceit.
The above review was contributed by: NORM GOLDMAN: Editor of Bookpleasures. Here are more of Norm Goldman's Reviews