The Actress

( 3 )


Aspiring actress and single mother Rita Farmer has gone from struggling to find work to downright desperate. If she doesn't land a paying job soon-horror movie, soap commercial, anything-she's afraid her ex-husband will use her dire financial straits to take away Petey, her cherished four-year-old son. While she's charming the crowd at storytime at the L.A. public library, a celebrity defense attorney approaches her with an unusual job offer: So long as she's discreet, Rita can rake in a thousand dollars a day ...
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Aspiring actress and single mother Rita Farmer has gone from struggling to find work to downright desperate. If she doesn't land a paying job soon-horror movie, soap commercial, anything-she's afraid her ex-husband will use her dire financial straits to take away Petey, her cherished four-year-old son. While she's charming the crowd at storytime at the L.A. public library, a celebrity defense attorney approaches her with an unusual job offer: So long as she's discreet, Rita can rake in a thousand dollars a day preparing his client for her appearance in court.

Easy money? Hardly. His client, Eileen Tenaway, is not only a wealthy heiress and a queen of the tabloids but she's been charged with the murder of her own child. The attorney needs Rita to coach Eileen secretly to help her seem more sympathetic, more human. He needs the jury to believe not only her words but the subtle cues of body language, facial expressions, even vocal style.

Rita knows she can do it, but what she doesn't know is how determined she'll become to find out what really happened to Eileen's family-once her own life and Petey's life depend on it. The Actress, Elizabeth Sims's engrossing series debuting a spirited sleuth, delivers a fresh, behind-the-scenes look at Hollywood's high society at its lowest.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly

Fans of Sims's Lambda Award-winning Lillian Byrd series (Easy Street, etc.) will recognize the bright, sassy tone of this first entry in a new series. When flashy L.A. attorney Gary Kwan offers aspiring actress Rita Farmer $1,000 a day to teach Eileen Tenaway, an unsympathetic defendant accused of murdering her baby, to appear more likable on the stand, Rita can't refuse. Flat broke, Rita fears losing custody of her son to her foul-mouthed ex. As trial prep progresses, Eileen's presumed-dead husband and her missing sister resurface, the husband's business partner disappears, money and gems are stolen, Gary is murdered and Rita's son is kidnapped. Sims writes well (her wry commentary on life in Hollywood is dead-on), but the relentlessly perky tone is at odds with the increasingly dark events. In addition, Rita's inexplicable actions in the face of danger diminish reader sympathy. In the end, the kitchen-sink plot is more wearying than dramatic. (June)

Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
Kirkus Reviews
A penniless actress hired to coach a woman on trial for killing her child finds even more mystery behind the case. Desperate for money to support herself and her son Petey, unemployed actress Rita Farmer takes celebrity lawyer Gary Kwan up on his offer of $1,000 per day to pose as a paralegal while working to soften his client Eileen Tenaway's image. Caught up in the case, Rita works long hours while her friend Daniel shuttles Petey between day-care centers and her abusive ex-husband schemes to sue for custody of Petey. Rita's curiosity gets the better of her when she's approached by George Rowe, an investigator for the insurance company that paid out a huge sum to Eileen and her husband's business partner when he was found dead in Brazil. Thereafter, Rita works to improve Eileen's chances with the jury while trying to find out whether Eileen's husband is really dead and what happened to a load of jewels and cash missing from the business. Having fallen a bit in love with the married Gary before he admitted to being gay, Rita's devastated to find him dead in a pool of blood. When she has to outwit a group of amoral people to save her child, she discovers that she's tougher than she thought. In her first departure from her Lillian Byrd series (Easy Street, 2005, etc.), Sims crafts a page-turner from stem to stern. Agent: Cameron McClure/Donald Maass Literary Agency
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780692287071
  • Publisher: Spruce Park Press
  • Publication date: 11/30/2014
  • Pages: 344
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 9.00 (h) x 0.77 (d)

Meet the Author

Elizabeth Sims learned the art of fiction by listening to tall tales on her father's knee, and by reading all sorts of books brought home by her mother, a teacher. (These ranged from Grimm's Fairy Tales to the Canterbury Tales, from Laura Ingalls Wilder to Ernest Hemingway.)

Today Elizabeth is the author of the Rita Farmer Mysteries and the Lambda Award-winning Lillian Byrd Crime Series, and she has written short stories, poems, and essays for numerous publications.

In addition, Elizabeth is an internationally recognized authority on writing. She writes frequently for Writer's Digest magazine, where she is a contributing editor. Through her articles, in-person workshops, and online teaching, she has helped thousands of fledgling authors find their wings.

Are you a writer too, or would you like to be one? You might find inspiration in her book, You've Got a Book in You: A Stress-Free Guide to Writing the Book of Your Dreams, published by Writer's Digest Books.

Elizabeth holds degrees in English from Michigan State University and Wayne State University, where she won the Tompkins Award for graduate fiction. She's worked as a reporter, photographer, technical writer, bookseller, street busker, ranch hand, corporate executive, and symphonic percussionist. She belongs to several literary societies as well as American Mensa.

To learn more about her and to view a full list of her available works, including free excerpts and book discussion guides, visit

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4.5
( 3 )
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Sort by: Showing all of 3 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted June 28, 2008

    Outstanding Courtroom Drama

    Love this author. I have every one of Elizabeth Sims¿ books. Her great new protagonist, Rita Farmer, is sharp, witty, and feisty. Rita¿s career is at a standstill when she is offered the opportunity to coach a completely unsympathetic defendant, Eileen Tenaway. While the gig probably won¿t jump start her stalled career, at $1,000 a day, it will pay the rent and help her keep custody of her loveable son, Petey. While, you¿ll root for Rita, her boss Gary, good friend Daniel, and the resilient Petey you¿ll find Eileen to be smugly rich, cold as ice, and very hard to like. Rita will need all her acting and coaching skills if Eileen is to go free and Rita desperately needs Eileen to be free. Take this page turner on your vacation!

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  • Posted December 9, 2008

    more from this reviewer

    exhilarating amateur sleuth legal thriller

    After meeting his latest semi-notorious client Eileen Tenaway, L.A. celebrity attorney Gary Kwan realizes even he cannot stand the unsympathetic woman a jury will hang her without needing any evidence to the charge she allegedly killed her baby. Desperate he hires starving wannabe actress Rita Farmer at one thousand dollars a day to train Eileen to appear a lot more sympathetic and likable in court especially when she takes the stand. Needing the money as she fears her rat of an ex will make an attempt to gain custody of their son Petey, Rita accepts the assignment.-------------- Rita finds teaching Eileen nearly impossible as the woman is sociopathically uncaringly numb. However, not long afterward, the case twists when insurance investiagtor Mr.Rowe informs Rita of a pay out to Eileen and her husband¿s business partner over the death of her sposue in Brazil. Soon Rita ponders whether the husband is dead and not long aftere that is resolved, his business partner, a lot of money and jewels vanish. When someone murders Gary and kidnaps Rita's son, the actress and her friend Daniel desperately search for her offspring even while knowing an unknown adversary wants Eileen hung.---------------------- Readers will root for Rita who turns from gentle kitty to ferocious lioness when her cub is threatened although some of her early investigative actions seem out of character as it places her and ultimately Petey in danger. The story line is fast-paced from the moment Gary hires Rita and never slows down. The key to this exhilarating amateur sleuth legal thriller is Eileen. She is so unsympathetic fans will convict her without any need of evidence. Elizabeth Sims provides a fascinating tale especially when the plot focuses on Eileen.-------------- Harriet Klausner

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 9, 2010

    No text was provided for this review.

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