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The Devil's Playground

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When they’re finished, Mary Rourke gives Geller further instructions and the men depart, taking the Brit actor with them. Smooth highway asphalt yields to blacktop cracked into snakeskin scales by a caustic sun, which in turn yields to powder-­dry dirt track. Why did the witch, supposedly haven convinced everyone of her death by suicide, make one female fixer believe she died by murder thus starting an investigation? Russell has many descriptive sections and phrasing that seem above the standard fare for this genre.

The Devil’s Playground conjures rich and riveting elements – 1920’s Hollywood, a terrifying silent film, an elusive and inscrutable killer, and an eerie sequence set in the Louisiana bayou – all of which come together to create a masterful thriller. Another hand gesture: the dog follows her, and both are swallowed by the black mouth of the doorway. When Rourke finds Carlton dead, she wonders if the dark rumours she's heard are true: that The Devil's Playground really is a cursed production. That’s a common theme and all helps construct a book that takes you on a journey into a doomed movie and an ill conceived quest.The Devil’s Playground, set partly in a richly evoked 1920s Hollywood, plays like Chinatown meets The Ring, and it’s the most sheerly entertaining novel I’ve raced through in at least a year. Such is Carlton’s serenity that, for a moment, Mary Rourke can believe she is asleep, rather than dead, and expects to see the chest rise to take a dreamy breath. The type of man who glides through life, charming and beguiling his way because nature accidentally gave his features particular proportions and a certain symmetry. Also wonderfully strange is a film professor's 1968 trip to an abandoned hotel in the middle of the Mojave where a copy of the film may be hidden.

Jeffery Deaver, author of The Bone Collector Praise for Hyde 'Stephen King meets Robert Louis Stevenson. The Devil's Playground conjures rich and riveting elements - 1920's Hollywood, a terrifying silent film, an elusive and inscrutable killer, and an eerie sequence set in the Louisiana bayou - all of which come together to create a masterful thriller. He was sure Sudden Lake was going to be the next big thing—­that and the movies—­so he built the hotel with a movie theater. Rourke leaves them to it while she steps into the other bedroom and talks the Brit through the fiction. Mary moves through the underworld of studio power and a corrupt Los Angeles Police Department as she digs into Norma’s death.

Anything sensitive about the studio, any narcotics, anything sex-weird, anything linking her to one of our names. Is this simply bad luck or is there something exceptionally sinister going on that has devilish roots in the past?

This is a tremendous work of historical noir… The mastery of silent film history was also exceptional… Expertly written and plotted, this excellent novel is a deeply satisfying amalgam of mystery and horror. Time shifts back and forth and some of the characters reinvent themselves from period to period which could be a little confusing, but The white stucco and terracotta-tiled house itself is large and sprawling, set on a proportionately generous lot dressed with acacia, palms, and olive and fruit trees; a kidney-shaped swimming pool glitters under suspended lanterns at the rear. Stephen King's The Outsider, for instance begins as a relatively straightforward crime story but by the end has become a supernatural horror story, which was where I lost interest, so I feared that the same might be the case with The Devil's Playground; fortunately that wasn't the case. The narrator, soon established as Elliot Chase, then zooms out to address the reader directly, introducing the players—most importantly movie star Lana Farrar.Yet she is a strong protagonist with a noirish air who inspires hope that she’ll inevitably outwit her enemies.

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