Book Review: The Stand In By Brad Geagley

The Stand In  is the sixth book for my reading challenge.  I found Brad’s wordpress blog because he liked one of my book reviews. After clicking on his blog, I noticed that he mostly post book reviews, which his are far more superior hee hee.  I love mystery novels, so I had to give his book a chance.  Plus, his funny post about the Vicki’s taking over the internet won me over (I love sarcasm).

Here’s my thoughts on The Stand In by Brad Geagley:

Mystery set in 1957 Hollywood. If you were a studio mogul what would you do if you discovered your leading man was a serial killer?  How do you protect your film?  How do you protect your studio?  And…your leading lady?  Louis Solomon, head of Centurion Studios, is deep in production on his very troubled wide-screen spectacular “A Tale of Two Cities”.  The picture is not even half done and is hemorrhaging money.

This is largely due to the temperamental antics of the picture’s leading man, Rick DeNova.  Riddled with drugs, extremely volatile, Rick has been the cause of a five-week shutdown for beating his leading lady and one-time lover, Lola Chandler, half to death.  While she recovers, Louis must find the money to complete the picture and keep the truth away from the press.  Unfortunately, this is precisely when Darren Cates, captain of the Ramparts Division of the LAPD, brings Louis the even more horrifying news that Rick is suspected in the strangulation murders of a series of blond starlets up in the Hollywood Hills.  Luckily, Cates is being paid by Centurion to keep its stars out of trouble.  But drugs and traffic violations are one thing–murder quite another.  Louis must scramble to complete his picture, save his studio and keep his leading lady alive.

Enter Eddie Baines, a small-town actor from Texas, hungry for fame.  Unluckily for him, he bears a striking resemblance to Mr. DeNova, which has prevented him from getting any parts.  Why should the studios hire an ersatz Rick when the real one is working down the street?  Even Eddie’s distinctive horseshoe-shaped cufflinks do not bring him the luck he needs.  But when Rick’s photo double goes missing, Eddie is hired to replace him.  Seeing the uncanny resemblance between Rick and Eddie, Solomon hatches a diabolical plan if anyone in the press discovers that Rick might be linked to the murders Eddie will be blamed.  The Young Texan is the perfect foil and the perfect fall guy.  But in Hollywood, as ever, nothing is as it seems.

I loved this 9 chapter novel.  The very first scene reminded me of “Summer of Sam”, which is one of my favorite movies.  My favorite moments were when Lola first meets Eddie, Eddie thinking he won’t be nice to his landlord once he gets hired for a gig, and when Danny plays detective.

I like how every angle of Hollywood was mentioned.  Brad Geagley has a gift of being amazing with characterization and describing enough details of a character’s background to make readers care for everyone.  Everyone was interesting.  Nadine and Danny always made me laugh–they worked for a gossip radio station (reminded me of E!).  Then, there was the PR guy, director, and producer.  Understanding their motives helped me realize their desperation of keeping the film rolling.  Even though I didn’t always agree with their choices, I respected their decisions.  Then, there’s the cop that’s being bribed to cover-up.  I so wanted him to tell Louis Solomon to kiss his ass LOL.  Last but not least, the actors and crew.  I enjoyed their sections the most.  I loved getting to see Eddie and Lola’s friendship blossom while Rick and Lola’s came to a screeching halt.  It blew my mind when it was revealed that she hadn’t really been in a car accident, but Rick had hit her.  No wonder she hated him.

This novel was very entertaining from beginning to end.  You have no idea how much I love mysteries, and this definitely kept me guessing to the last second.  I always kept suspecting Rick, Eddie, or the photo double to be the killer.  The author was great in giving little clues here and there to keep the suspense going.  Danny was so close to finding out the truth!

I was VERY IMPRESSED with the twist at the end.  If anyone has ever seen the movie “Tangled”, then you’ve heard of the story about the good son and bad son.  That will give you an idea of how awesome the twist was.  Was Rick the killer?  Or someone else?  I would love to tell you, but I can’t give it away.  You’ll have to read the book to find out.  Let’s just say, I was spooked.

This book was a fast read.  It was so descriptive and engaging that I got lost in the story.  It felt like I was watching a movie.  I will admit I was scared at first to read it because it was based in the 1950’s (I’m not big on stories set in the past), but that didn’t distract me at all.  In fact, the time and place enhanced the plot, and I couldn’t think of a better way to entertain readers.

I RECOMMEND this book to read.

Keep smiling,

Yawatta Hosby

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