Picks and Pans Review: Celebrity

updated 04/19/1982 AT 01:00 AM EST

originally published 04/19/1982 AT 01:00 AM EST

by Thomas Thompson

Three young men who have grown up together in Fort Worth, Texas are involved in a rape at a high school graduation party, then leave the girl for dead and swear one another to secrecy. The handsome athlete among them goes on to become a famous Hollywood star, the best student a journalist-writer and the most popular one an evangelist who is the darling of America's right-wingers. The journalist covers the major news events of his time, including the death of Marilyn Monroe and John Kennedy's assassination. He writes a best-seller about civil rights, and after being wounded in Vietnam, a book about that. Success and money pour in, and finally he wants to expose the evangelist, his onetime friend, as a fraud. There are dozens of plots with familiar Hollywood names. All three of the men are J.R. types out for power, money and fame at any price. The book also has sex in all its varieties. It is extravagant fiction, and it works because Thompson, a former LIFE staffer, is a top reporter. He sets a scene and establishes a character with skill, clarity and speed. Some of his best sketches are bit players, such as a rugged woman reporter in Houston who breaks typewriters, and Judge Mustardseed, who presides over the incredible climactic trial. For admirers of Thompson's Blood and Money and Serpentine (nonfiction best-sellers), this first novel will be as welcome as rain in the panhandle. It's more than 500 pages—in fast, lean prose—about the lurid events that shadow celebrities in America today. (Doubleday, $17.95)

From Our Partners