THE SCENE STEALER by Warren Dunford (Cormorant), 340 pages, $19.95 paper. Rating: NN Rating: NN
I appreciate any attempts to satirize the shallowness of the film industry and all the people in it. But when the satire comes in the form of fiction, it's a challenge to care about characters without depth.
That just about sums up why Warren Dunford's mystery The Scene Stealer, his third novel featuring writer Mitchell Draper, doesn't work.
It's got plot - in this case the story of Gabriella Hartman, ex-TV soap star who, years after she was kidnapped and escaped, attempts to make a career comeback by starring in a made-for-TV movie about the harrowing incident.
The T.O. scribe lands the gig as the writer, but just days before the movie is set to go into production, Hartman is nabbed again by kidnappers using dialogue stolen directly from Draper's script.
We get the usual suspects: the dresser, the ambitious director and the star herself, who may have faked the kidnapping for publicity. Draper's also on the list of suspicious people, and he'd absolve himself more readily if he weren't so smitten with the hunky investigating officer that he can't string a sentence together.
But Dunford's got a tone problem. He doesn't take his characters - including Draper and the other queer personalities in the book - seriously. So why should we?
I love a fun book, but silly - which is what The Scene Stealer is - isn't the same as fun.
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