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Beverly Hills Dead (Rick Barron Series #2)

Beverly Hills Dead (Rick Barron Series #2)

3.7 24
by Stuart Woods

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1940s Hollywood comes alive in this sequel to The Prince of Beverly Hills.

Rick Barron—former Beverly Hills cop, now head of production of Centurion pictures—returns in a page turning novel of murder, political intrigue, and betrayal. Set in 1940s Hollywood, it is the era of the “Red Scare”—when almost anyone could


1940s Hollywood comes alive in this sequel to The Prince of Beverly Hills.

Rick Barron—former Beverly Hills cop, now head of production of Centurion pictures—returns in a page turning novel of murder, political intrigue, and betrayal. Set in 1940s Hollywood, it is the era of the “Red Scare”—when almost anyone could be suspect.

From the Paperback edition.

Editorial Reviews

Kirkus Reviews
1947. Eight years after tussling with starlets, mobsters and studio heads in The Prince of Beverly Hills (2004), former Beverly Hills cop Rick Barron is back, now on the other side of the desk. Everything happens fast at Centurion Studios, where Rick Barron is head of production. Hours after wrapping his first film as director, he decides to put off the war movie he's supposed to be making next in favor of Bitter Creek, a tough Western penned by playwright-turned-screenwriter Sidney Brooks that he is first shown at the wrap party. The next day, he buys the screenplay, starts pre-production, sends a location scout to Wyoming to look at cattle ranches and hires newcomer Vance Calder to star. It isn't long, though, before problems crop up. Somebody mails Rick photostats of Communist Party membership cards in the names of Sidney Brooks and Louise Brecht, who just happens, under the name Glenna Gleason, to be Rick's wife and leading lady. The suicide of Alan James, who's testified as an unfriendly witness before the House Un-American Activities Committee, makes James's old friend Brooks apprehensive about his own subpoena. And with good cause, since the dire consequences of his appearance before the HUAC come as rapidly as Rick's career moves. In one of those unrelated plot lines Woods's fans evidently love, the runaway romance between Vance Calder and Susie Stafford, his Bitter Creek costar, hits a snag when Susie, en route from moving her things from her ex-lover Henrietta ("Hank") Harmon's apartment to the spacious house Vance just bought from Brooks, vanishes with every indication of foul play. You'll be relieved to know that by the end of the year, Bitter Creek opens to strong notices andconsiderable Oscar buzz. Precious little mystery or suspense, but the book's momentum and the blacklist plot line will keep the pages turning. Agent: Anne Sibbald/Janklow & Nesbit Associates

Product Details

Penguin Publishing Group
Publication date:
Rick Barron Series , #2
Sold by:
Penguin Group
Sales rank:
File size:
871 KB
Age Range:
18 Years

Read an Excerpt

Chapter 1

Rick Barron took one last look through the viewfinder, then he turned to the assistant director. "Conversation," he said.

The AD held up a megaphone and shouted, "Conversation!"

At once, a hundred and fifty extras, packed into a set that was a replica of Sardi's, the famous theater-district restaurant in New York, began to talk.

"Acton," Rick said quietly.

"Speed," the camera operator replied.

Waiters began to move among the tables.

"Cue the entrance," Rick said.

"Entrance," the AD said into a microphone hanging around his neck. He signaled the dolly man, and the camera began to roll smoothly down the restaurant's main aisle toward the entrance of the restaurant.

The front door opened, and his leading lady, Glenna Gleason, wearing a gorgeous evening gown and followed by another actress and two actors, all in evening dress, walked in and were greeted by a Vincent Sardi look-alike. As they walked past the small bar and entered the dining room, the camera backtracked, and, on cue, all the diners stood and applauded.

Glenna managed to look shocked, then delighted as she followed "Sardi" to their table along the wall. The camera stopped and moved in closer as a microphone boom was lowered over the false wall to pick up their dialogue.

"My God," Glenna said, "I didn't know it would be like this."

The actor on her left turned to her. "Katherine," he said, "it's going to be like this from now on."

On Rick's signal, the camera began to dolly slowly away from the table and, keeping Glenna's party in the center of the frame, rose to a height of twelve feet and stopped.

"Keep the conversation going," Rick said from his chair on the boom next to the camera. He sat and watched the stopwatch in his hand for ninety seconds, which was what they needed to roll under the closing titles. "Cut!" he yelled, finally. "Print it! That's a wrap!" It was the fourth take, and it was perfect. They had shot the three scenes at Sardi's all on the same day, and now it was done: Rick had made his first feature film as a director. He sagged with relief as the camera operator pounded him on the back.

Then, to his astonishment, every actor on the set rose from his seat and gave the director a standing ovation. Rick stood up, holding on to the camera for support, then turned and faced the bulk of the crowd, "Cut!" he yelled again. "Start the party!"

A part of the rear wall of the set was rolled away, revealing a huge buffet table and a bar serving real booze instead of the tea in the prop glasses on the table. The crowd of extras surged toward the food and drink, and Rick signaled the boom operator to lower the camera to the floor. He hopped off and slid into a banquette beside his wife, giving her a big kiss. "Glenna, my darling, that was great. It's going to be wonderful, the whole thing."

Two of the actors got up from the table and made way for Eddie Harris, the chairman of Centurion Studios, and Sidney Brooks, the famous New York playwright, who had written the script for Times Square Dance.

"Rick," Eddie said, "congratulations."

Champagne appeared and was poured.

"I thought the last scene went beautifully," Brooks said to everybody.

"Sid, we're going to do your script proud," Rick said. "Just give me a couple of days, and I'll show you a rough cut."

"I can't wait," Brooks replied.

"I have to go pee," Glenna said, and Rick let her out of the banquette. The actor playing her husband got up, too, leaving Rick, Eddie Harris and Sidney Brooks at the table.

"Fellas," Brooks said, "I have to tell you something."

Rick looked at the man across the table. For the first time since he had met the playwright, the man looked less than happy.

"What's up, Sid?" Eddie asked.

"I wanted to tell you before it hits the papers tomorrow," Brooks said.

"Tell us what?" Rick asked.

"I've been subpoenaed by the House of Un-American Activities Committee, along with eighteen other people, mostly writers but a few actors and one director."

"Oh, shit," Eddie said. "Well, don't worry about it; get a good lawyer."

"I'm sorry, Sid," Rick said, "But Eddie is right about the lawyer."

"There's a meeting tomorrow," Brooks replied. "I want to tell you fellows…"

"You don't need to tell us anything," Eddie said.

"You mean, you'd rather not know, don't you Eddie?"

"The first thing your lawyer is going to tell you is to shut up," Eddie said. "I'm just giving you a head start; don't say anything to anybody, unless your lawyer approves it first."

"I'm not looking to drag anybody into this," Brooks said. "I just want to be honest with you. This picture has been the best experience I've had since I came out here four years ago; it's the first picture that's given me the same sort of satisfaction that writing a play used to."

"Look, Sid," Rick said, "these people are going to hold their hearings, grill some movie stars, and then it'll be over. Six months from now you'll have put it behind you."

Brooks set his briefcase on the table, opened it and pulled out a thick manila envelope. "I've been working on this for two years," he said. "I've never told anybody about it, but it's the best thing I've ever written for either the stage or film, and after the wonderful experience I've had with the production of Times Square Dance, I want you fellows to produce it, and, Rick, I'd be delighted if you'd direct again."

"Thank you, Sid," Rick said, and he meant it. "I'll read it tonight."

"Tell your agent to call Rick in the morning," Eddie said, "We'll have a deal before lunchtime."

"But you haven't even read it, Eddie," Brooks said, laughing.

"I don't need to. I'll buy it sight unseen."

Rick knew that wasn't quite true, but he knew that Eddie expected to like the script; he would want Rick's opinion first, though.

"It's a western," Brooks said.

"What?" Rick exclaimed. "The theater's urban genius has written a western?"

"The grittiest, down-and-dirtiest western you ever saw," Brooks said. "I love westerns, and I've always wanted to write one; to tell you the truth, it's the principal reason I came out here, just to get the opportunity. I've had the idea for a long time, but it wouldn't work on the stage, and I didn't want it produced without the level of participation you fellows have given me."

"Thank you, Sid," Rick said.

Glenna returned from the ladies' room and sat down. "I called home," she said. "The girls are fine, and I told Rosie to give them dinner and put them to bed. I take it we'll be here for a while."

"I think we will," Rick said. "I think I'd better circulate and thank everybody." He handed Brooks' script to her. "Guard this with your life," he said. "It's the next Sidney Brooks film."

"Oh, is there a part for me?" she asked excitedly.

"I haven't read it yet, sweetheart; I'll let you know tomorrow." Rick got up and began making his way around the Sardi's set, shaking hands, hugging and kissing and enduring many claps on the back.

A moment later, Eddie Harris caught up with him. "Listen, kid," he said, leaning into Rick's ear, "If that script is any good we need to get into production fast."

"I'm supposed to personally produce the new war film," Rick said. "We could do it right after that."

"I got a bad feeling about these HUAC hearings," Eddie said. "I'd rather have Sid's film in the can, even if we have to postpone production on the war movie."

"Okay. I'll call you when I've read it," Rick said. Eddie fell away, and Rick continued his rounds, but his euphoria at finishing shooting had been pricked by Eddie Harris, and air was leaking out.

What People are Saying About This

From the Publisher

"Woods writes with smooth confidence as famous names add spice to a diverting summer read that simmers but never gets hard-boiled." -Kirkus Reviews on The Prince of Beverly Hills

Meet the Author

Stuart Woods is the author of more than sixty novels. He is a native of Georgia and began his writing career in the advertising industry. Chiefs, his debut in 1981, won the Edgar Award. An avid sailor and pilot, Woods lives in Florida, Maine, and New Mexico.

From the Paperback edition.

Brief Biography

Key West, Florida; Mt. Desert, Maine; New York, New York
Date of Birth:
January 9, 1938
Place of Birth:
Manchester, Georgia
B.A., University of Georgia, 1959

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Beverly Hills Dead (Rick Barron Series #2) 3.7 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 24 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
At least this novel had the benifit of being somewhat fresh as it's only the second installment in this series. One of the flaws in this book 'and most of Woods' works' in my opinion is that all the characters that meet socially become instant fast friends and all business dealings go smoothly and everyone can't do enough good things or pay a high enough price to the people they deal with. I tend to think that the road to fame and fortune is a little rockier than depicted in this book. Oh, and Vance Calder, who is 19 years old, could easily be mistaken for a 40 year old.
Guest More than 1 year ago
A number of reviewers have written that this book falls far short of the standard of quality we've come to expect form Mr. Woods. While I agree this is not his best effort, there's quite a lot to like about it. His recreation of the period is vivid and almost 'cinematic' in detail. The plot contains enough surprises to keep you guessing all the way to the end. No masterpiece, but a solid diversion nonetheless.
Anonymous 5 months ago
Great read that spans some interesting and unfortunate times in recent US history.
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I have enjoyed past books by Stuart Woods. This one is just OK. It was interestingly set in the 40s which made it a little different. Simple story and a one time read. --K--
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Guest More than 1 year ago
While I agree this is not Mr. Woods best book, it is an easy read, entertaining, simple story - what I would call a beach read or a day at the pool. If you read the Stone Barrington series, you will wonder what, if any, the end of this book is setting up..........
Guest More than 1 year ago
As a reader of 60-70 novels per year, I come across all types of writers. Alas, I am afraid that Stuart Woods has joined the ranks of writers who just add their names to another writers work. Case in point, James Patterson. BH Dead must have been written by a high school english major. It reads like the writer was double parked and had to finish before the meter maid came. In a word....Terrible.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Now this is more like it! I read this book in a day! Woods' last book 'Shoot him before he leaves' in my opinion was a very weak effort & it was the first book of Woods' that I hated. This book really captured the era of the Hollywoood blacklists. I liked it.
harstan More than 1 year ago
Beverly Hills Dead Stuart Woods Putnam, Jan 2008, $25.95 ISBN: 9780399154690 In the 1940s the House on Un-American Activities Committee is just beginning its witch hunt and Hollywood is starting to feel the effect. Rick Barron, head of production of Centurion Pictures, has no interest in politics, but his antenna quivers when Communist Cards are sent to him with the names of Bitter Creek screenwriter Sid Banks and Laurie Brecht, who happens to be his movie star wife Glenna Gleason. Rick arranges for the matter to be taken care of quietly, but Sid is blackballed when he refuses to name names to the HUAC members. Most of Hollywood runs from Sid to avoid being painted with his taint. His movie is near completion with new stars Vance Calder and Susie Stafford in the lead. The pair becomes romantically involved and she is to move into his home when she vanishes. Soon afterward she is found dead in a dump. Rick demands the police find her killer while Sid becomes a willing friendly witness for HUAC, which restores his name. However, both Rick and Sid know HUAC has unfinished business with them as the Congress will leave no stone unturned. --- This historical mystery focuses on the beginning of the HUAC ¿Red Scare¿ witch hunt that terrorized much of Hollywood in the late 1940 and early 1950s when the studio heads were more concerned over the bottom line than the ¿J¿accuse¿ mentality of DC. The murder mystery is cleverly devised so that red herrings and twists keep the audience guessing the identity of the killer. However that also detracts from a deep look at the opening phases of the HUAC on film making. Still this is an entreating tale that will have fans seeking the previous entry THE PRINCE OF BEVERLY HILLS. --- Harriet Klausner
lyle sturgeon More than 1 year ago