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    Review of BLONDE LIGHTNING by Terrill Lee Lankford (see his website)

    Ballantine Books, July 2005

    Out of a job and virtually unemployable in Hollywood, Mark Hayes decides to take the risk of linking up with a low-budget film. His neighbor, screenwriter and director Clyde McCoy, has decided to do one more film, and has lined up a star, partial financing, and a crew. He offers to take Mark on to help with the babysitting that movie-making always entails. Although Mark has been in the industry, even that didn't prepare him for the escalating problems.

    Clyde's girlfriend, a kung fu star, has been harassed by a movie critic--who escalates his attacks to an insane level, finally sabotaging Clyde's brakes to the point where they fail spectacularly. When even that doesn't satisfy him, Clyde decides he needs to resolve the issue--and talks Mark into going to Las Vegas with him to hire a connected mobster to threaten the movie critic into backing off. If a deranged movie critic is a problem, though, an angry mobster hitman is an even bigger problem--and the Mark is dragged along as the dangers escalate.

    Author Terrill Lee Lankford does an excellent job describing the under-seam of Hollywood. Far from the lethargic shoots of big-name stars and high-ego directors lies the B-film industry--still churning out movies in weeks rather than months or years, at budgets that wouldn't pay the hair stylists in some of the big film budgets. The business can be a trap for the creative, and a moral swamp as well.

    BLONDE LIGHTNING is a disturbing story. Every step Mark makes puts him deeper in trouble until every choice seems closed to him. There are no happy endings here, no goodguys beating off the forces of evil. Instead, it's a matter of shades of gray. Still, Lankford's writing is strong and his characters feel very real.

    Three Stars

    Reviewed 3/14/06

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