Beyond the Red Carpet/Heart of Stone by Debbra Lynn
Genre: Heart of Stone is #653 in Best Sellers Rank for Mystery, Crime Fiction, Murder
Publisher: Amazon Digital Services LLC
Publication Dates: December 2016/June 2016
Submitted by author for review
Because I was sent these two books of the Hollywood Lies series together, I’ll review both here beginning with Beyond the Red Carpet, a debut effort by Debbra Lynn. Though I am not usually one to read a book with some serious “adult content,” (language and sexual content) this book caught my attention with an interesting plot that was laid out by flashbacks setting the ground work for the present (2015) scene–describing a well planned, or “perfect” murder. Both covers are dark and set the stage for murder mysteries.
The initial protagonists don’t all stay in that position as the plot progresses. Not the first time a marriage has been misrepresented as a beautiful, loving couple, Marcus and Sophia have their share of conflicts that escalate into ever-increasing paranoid revelations by Marcus. He has become involved with Sophia’s best friend, Cat, who is definitely no friend, getting her claws into Sophia’s husband, who is a wildly successful and powerful Hollywood director.
Following the chronology from 2004 when Marcus meets Sophia forges an interesting insight into the personalities and backgrounds of the couple as they meet and date and sets the stage for the eventual breakdown by Marcus’s manic desire to save his hard-won Hollywood money and power position. The overly detailed descriptions might have been unnecessary for the reader’s imagination, however, and the individuals thoughts could have been handled in a more selective manner. The dialogue did become more natural as the book progressed swiftly to the climax leaving a serious cliff-hanger at the end. If it is designed to compel you into the prequel, it works.
While Heart of Stone of the series is listed as Book 2, it is actually a prequel to Book 1, Beyond the Red Carpet. In the prequel, we get to know Caleb Stone better, presented here as the protagonist, as it follows his history from childhood to explain his present situation in LA.
The man is a dynamite detective, but just a tad damaged from a traumatic childhood experience. Fortunately, he is assimilated into a foster family who takes marvelous care of him and turns him around, that along with some serious counseling. While in foster care, a girl his age is also taken in and they eventually fall in love and following graduation want to get married. (He’s crazy about her, but not that crazy, as he waits on the marriage thing.)
There is a blank spot between high school graduation and his police academy graduation, but in the meantime, both apparently manage college or academy while living together. Unfortunately, she is killed. He moves where she wanted to go after they married and gets a job with that police force, working his way into becoming a detective, which is his duty when he is introduced (by way of a side-contract) to Sophia through Trent, his police buddy. Trent and he have deduced together that justice isn’t always just and have quietly and extremely carefully taken the blind-folded lady into their own hands at times. It is through this particular vein that Marcus, Sophia’s husband, has come to Trent to have his wife investigated.
We know from Book 1 that Marcus has met and proceeded with a wild love affair with Sophia’s best friend, Cat. Cat is your standard Hollywood bee-atch. Marcus has come up the hard way and has gone paranoid with worry about losing his position, power, and money if he dumps Sophia for Cat. Cat is pushing hard for a solution as she is tired of waiting.
In the meantime, however, Caleb’s investigation into Sophia has sent him over-the-moon in love with Sophia (the man is a bit fragile), who I’m not liking so much anymore either, but let’s face it–Marcus is nobody’s fine catch! Gees, what a “tangled web we weave”…well, anyway, this is one of those series that might be found on prime time TV.
The dialogue smoothes out a little more in this offering, though Ms. Lynn still wants to spoon-feed us detailed minutiae. Yes, the story is still peppered with four-letter words and distasteful sex scenes, but the author draws this prequel to a coordinated chronological conclusion that sets the stage beautifully for the entry to Book 3 of the series. **spoiler alert** I don’t care for Marcus’s sister, Olivia, already and she is apparently going to set Jill Keller, Caleb’s immediate “ex” police partner on a collision course with the plot of the perfect murder.
The prequel moves pretty good, is shorter, and not so stilted. The protagonists and antagonists continue to be fleshed out and present the classic conflict. You have to pay attention to the flash-backs, but it is laid out fairly well, especially at the climax of the prequel. Both books exhibit a few edit errors and omissions, although I noticed fewer in the prequel, but that may have been because I enjoyed it more. Recommended for the younger set or those who are no longer offended by language and sexual encounter descriptions. I was given these two books in return for a review and will now wait for Book 3; but now warned, I’ll roll my eyes and whisper “nah, nah, nah, nah” through the naughty parts.
The Author: Debbra Lynn lives in Edmonton, Canada with her husband of eight years and two fur babies. Working for an RV dealership, she and her hubby share a fifth wheel parked at a golf course in the summer and consider it their second home.
Rosepoint rating: Four of Five Stars
©2016 Virginia Williams