If anybody can accurately portray the snakepit disguised as a country club that is Hollywood, it is Steven Bochco, the co-creator of L.A. Law and NYPD Blue. His first novel, a murder mystery, has the same dark humor and cynical insider's take as the fiction of Elmore Leonard.
A screenwriter with a penchant for binge drinking and messing up his marriage witnesses the kinky murder of a prodigious Latin lover. The writer knows who did it, but instead of reporting the crime, he turns it into his next can't-miss screenplay. One hitch: The detective assigned to the case has sniffed out the scribe, and he wants a piece of the action. The dirty cop works the angles with the skill of Minnesota Fats.
Bochco succeeds in creating characters with emotional depth (a real feat, given that he is dealing with Hollywood) in this breezy read. Told from the perspective of a wisecracking talent agent, Death by Hollywood is a potboiler overflowing with sex-crazed bimbos, morally bankrupt movie producers and hustlers on the make. By turns hilarious (an agent who is offered sex by an ambitious starlet retorts, "That's fine for you, but what's in it for me?") and philosophical ("My guess is that secrets and their attendant shame tend to determine the basic formation of our character"), this is a morality tale that doesn't stoop to preach.