L. A. Times

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Overview

Stuart Woods, bestselling author of Palindrome, New York Dead, and Santa Fe Rules, has written a mesmerizing new thriller about Hollywood and the mob. Vinnie Callabrese toils in the mean world of a Mafia hood, violently enforcing his loan-shark boss's debt collections, but he lives in the world of the movies, one where he can tie a bow tie like Cary Grant and speak with the voice of Tyrone Power. Vinnie is smart, too, and he finds a way to turn his dream world into reality. Arriving on the West Coast with a new ...
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L.A. Times: A Novel

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Overview

Stuart Woods, bestselling author of Palindrome, New York Dead, and Santa Fe Rules, has written a mesmerizing new thriller about Hollywood and the mob. Vinnie Callabrese toils in the mean world of a Mafia hood, violently enforcing his loan-shark boss's debt collections, but he lives in the world of the movies, one where he can tie a bow tie like Cary Grant and speak with the voice of Tyrone Power. Vinnie is smart, too, and he finds a way to turn his dream world into reality. Arriving on the West Coast with a new identity and some ill-gotten gains, Vinnie discovers that his sociopathic nature is just the ticket for handling the intrigues of tinseltown. He employs his old techniques of deceit, coercion, sexual conquest - even murder - to carve out a place at the top of the film industry. But Vinnie's old neighborhood friends have excellent memories and a long reach, and soon his fast-track career is facing derailment - or even worse, a new driver at the controls. Stuart Woods delivers a stunning story of greed, triumph, and deception, propelling L.A. Times at breakneck speed from its first page to its harrowing climax.
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Editorial Reviews

Kirkus Reviews
Woods—an off-again (Santa Fe Rules, etc.), on-again (New York Dead, etc.) writer—is very much on here, turning his big weakness—stagnant characters—into a strength. In this enjoyably high- sleaze potboiler about a mafioso who conquers Hollywood, there's no need for character growth: Every member of the cast is a blackhearted villain, and the great fun is watching them claw each other as the author spins out one unexpected twist, loop, and climax after another. "You have the single most important quality that a successful producer can possess...you are a complete sociopath." When his sexy assistant says that to Michael Vincent, she isn't kidding. Born Vincente Michaele Callabrese in N.Y.C., Michael is a mob- connected hustler who parlays his passion for movies into fame and fortune when he bankrolls a superior indie feature that lands him a producing deal at a top studio—and never mind that he has to kill two fellow mafiosi to get the funds for the film. In L.A., the comer wallows in the lavish life, investing his money with a loan- shark. When the rights-holder on the novel he plans to film next refuses to sell, Michael calls on his old mob-pal Tommy Pro for help, leading to the release of the rights—but only through a murder that leaves Michael's fingerprints at the scene. A nosy cop realizes that Michael's guilt, so the producer simply buys him out—and kills him after a second blackmail attempt. And so Michael leaps up the ladder—conning actors and writers, ruining lives, cuckolding and then killing his boss—but always making good films (and winning a Best Picture Oscar for one), until his greed gets him in trouble with Tommy Pro, who'snow a Mafia don—and who arranges the harsh yet poetically just fate that closes the book on Michael. With a villain as charismatically coldblooded as this one, who needs a hero? Not Woods—and not readers of this devilishly entertaining thriller. (First printing of 100,000)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780061091568
  • Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
  • Publication date: 1/28/1994
  • Format: Mass Market Paperback
  • Edition description: Reprint
  • Pages: 400
  • Product dimensions: 4.18 (w) x 6.75 (h) x 1.00 (d)

Meet the Author

Stuart Woods

Stuart Woods is the author of more than forty novels, including the New York Times bestselling Stone Barrington and Holly Barker series. An avid sailor and pilot, he lives in New York City, Florida, and Maine.

Biography

Stuart Woods was born in 1938 in Manchester, Georgia. After graduating from college and enlisting in the Air National Guard, he moved to New York, where he worked in advertising for the better part of the 1960s. He spent three years in London working for various ad agencies, then moved to Ireland in 1973 to begin his writing career in earnest.

However, despite his best intentions, Woods got sidetracked in Ireland. He was nearly 100 pages into a novel when he discovered the seductive pleasures of sailing. "Everything went to hell," he quips on his web site "All I did was sail." He bought a boat, learned everything he could about celestial navigation, and competed in the Observer Singlehanded Transatlantic Race (OSTAR) in 1976, finishing respectably in the middle of the fleet. (Later, he took part in the infamous Fastnet Race of 1979, a yachting competition that ended tragically when a huge storm claimed the lives of 15 sailors and 4 observers. Woods and his crew emerged unharmed.)

Returning to the U.S., Woods wrote two nonfiction books: an account of his transatlantic sailing adventures (Blue Water, Green Skipper) and a travel guide he claims to have written on a whim. But the book that jump-started his career was the opus interruptus begun in Ireland. An absorbing multigenerational mystery set in a small southern town, Chiefs was published in 1981, went on to win an Edgar Award, and was subsequently turned into a television miniseries starring Charlton Heston.

An amazingly prolific author, Woods has gone on to pen dozens of compelling thrillers, juggling stand-alone novels with installments in four successful series. (His most popular protagonists are New York cop-turned-attorney Stone Barrington, introduced in 1991's New York Dead, and plucky Florida police chief Holly Barker, who debuted in 1998's Orchid Beach.) His pleasing mix of high-octane action, likable characters, and sly, subversive humor has made him a hit with readers -- who have returned the favor by propelling his books to the top of the bestseller lists.

Good To Know

Some fascinating facts about Stuart Woods:

His first job was in advertising at BBDO in New York, and his first assignment was to write ads for CBS-TV shows. He recalls: "They consisted of a drawing of the star and one line of exactly 127 characters, including spaces, and I had to write to that length. It taught me to be concise."

He flies his own airplane, a single-engine turboprop called a Jetprop, and tours the country every year in it, including book tours.

He's a partner in a 1929 motor yacht called Belle and spends two or three weeks a year aboard her.

In 1961-62, Woods spent 10 months in Germany with the National Guard at the height of the Berlin Wall Crisis.

In October and November of 1979, he skippered a friend's yacht back across the Atlantic, with a crew of six, calling at the Azores, Madeira, and the Canary Islands and finishing at Antigua in the Caribbean.

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

Read an Excerpt

Chapter One



1989



Vinnie Callabrese stood on the southeast corner of Second Avenue and St. Marks Place in New York City and watched the candy store across the street. The fat man was due any minute.

Vinnie felt neither guilt nor anxiety about what he was going to do. In fact, the only emotion he felt at that moment was impatience, because he could see the marquee of the St. Mark's Theater 80 in the next block, and he knew that Touch of Evil started in eight minutes. Vinnie didn't like to be late for a movie.

Vinnie's nose was Roman, his hair and beard thick and black, his eyes dark. He knew how to concentrate those eyes on another man and induce fear. Vinnie wasn't the heaviest muscle who worked for Benedetto, but he stood six-two and weighed a tightly packed one hundred and ninety pounds.

The fat man weighed more than three hundred pounds, but he was soft to the bone. Vinnie wasn't worried, except about the time.

With six minutes left before the movie, the fat man double-parked his Cadillac Sedan De Ville at the opposite corner, struggled out of the big car, and waddled into the candy store. Vinnie gave him long enough to reach his office, then crossed the street. The place was empty, except for the old man who made the egg creams and sold the cigarettes. Vinnie closed the door, worked the latch, and flipped the OPEN sign around. He looked at the old man and gave him a little smile. "You're closed," he said, "for five minutes."

The old man nodded resignedly and picked up the Daily News.

Vinnie strode past the magazine racks, his leather heels echoing off the cracked marble floor,and put his hand on the doorknob of the back room. He opened it very gently and peeked into the little office. The fat man sat, his gut resting on the battered desk. With one hand he was flipping quickly through a stack of small bills, and the fingers of his other hand flew over a calculator in a blur. Vinnie was momentarily transfixed. He had never seen anything quite like it, the fat man was a virtuoso on the calculator.

The man looked up and stopped calculating. "Who the fuck are you?" he asked.

Vinnie stepped into the office and dosed the door behind him. "I'm a friend of the guy who loaned you five thousand dollars nine weeks ago," he said. His accent was heavy -- New York and Little Italy.

The fat man managed a sour grin. "And you've just come to make a polite call, huh?"

Vinnie shook his head slowly. "No. The polite guy was here last week, and the week before that, and the month before that."

"So you're the muscle, huh?" the fat man said, grinning more widely and leaning back in his chair. His right hand remained on the edge of the desk. It was a long reach over his gut, and it didn't look natural. "You ever heard of the law, guinea? You ever heard that what your friend does is against the law? That he has no legal claim on me, not even a piece of paper?"

"You gave my friend your word," Vinnie said slowly. "That was good enough for him. Now you've disappointed him." The fat man's fingers curled over the top of the desk drawer and yanked it open, but Vinnie moved faster. He caught the fat man by the wrist, then turned and drove an elbow into his face. The fat man grunted and made a gurgling sound but didn't let go of the desk drawer. Without a pause, Vinnie lifted a foot and kicked the drawer shut. A cracking sound was heard in the room.

The fat man screamed. He snatched his hand from Vinnie's grasp and held it close to his bleeding face. "You broke my fingers!" he whimpered. He wouldn't be doing any calculating for a while.

Vinnie bent over, grabbed a leg of the chair in which the fat man sat, and yanked. The fat man fell backwards into a quivering heap. Vinnie opened the desk drawer and found a short-barrelled .32 revolver. He lifted his shirttail and tucked it into his belt. "This is a dangerous weapon," he said. "You shouldn't have it; you'll end up hurting yourself." Vinnie reached for the stack of bills on the desk and started counting. The fat man watched with an expression of pain that had nothing to do with his bleeding face or his broken fingers. Vinnie stopped counting. "Five hundred," he said, sticking the wad into his pocket and returning a few ones to the desktop. "My friend will apply this to the interest on your loan. On Friday, he'll want all the back interest. A week from Friday, he'll want the five grand."

"I can't raise five thousand by then," the fat man whined.

"Sell the Cadillac," Vinnie suggested.

"I can't; it's got a loan on it."

"Maybe my friend will take the Cadillac in payment," Vinnie said. "I'll ask him. You could go on making the payments."

"Are you nuts? That car is new -- it cost me thirty-five thousand."

"Just a suggestion," Vinnie said. "It would be cheaper just to come up with the five grand."

"I can't," the fat man whimpered. "I just can't do it."

"I'II tell my friend you promised," Vinnie said. He left the office and closed the door behind him.

Vinnie was in his seat, eating buttered popcorn, in time to raptly watch Orson Welles's incredibly long, one-take opening shot of Charlton Heston and Janet Leigh crossing the border into Mexico. He'd seen it at least a dozen times, and it never failed to amaze him. So much happening all at once, and yet the...

L.A. Times. Copyright © by Stuart Woods. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold.
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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 3.5
( 13 )
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Sort by: Showing 1 – 17 of 13 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted October 27, 2002

    "Unique" would be an understatement.

    I've read more Stuart Woods novels than I'd care to admit. L.A. Times isn't a Stone Barrington book; I DON'T like the Stone Barrington series because I really don't like the "Stone Barrington" character... self-serving, somehow sexist, and perpetually presented in a conceited light--once you've stopped and untangled it all. That said, the protagonist in L.A. Times is all these things but in an ever so subtly more sinister way. The plot of this book slowly simmers to a boil as you find yourself more and more deeply immersed into the socipath's mind. Perhaps I was just expecting something else from this author basing an assumption on my previous experience with him (Dead in the Water, Swimming to Catalina) but the plot's acrobatics culminate into a genuinely dark and supremely executed conclusion. This is a book you'll think about for weeks long after you've finished it.

    2 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 8, 2002

    Page-turner

    I was rooting for the hero/villain in this thoroughly engaging story. It appears Woods has been a good writer from early 1990's as well.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 10, 2011

    Good read

    Highly entertaining

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  • Posted August 5, 2011

    It is what it is...

    It looks like most Of the reviews that were posted when I added this to my wish list a few months back have been removed and replaced with more facorable ones. Much of the criticism was regarding stagnant characters andrecycled plot. I have read thebulk of this series and know this to be somewhat true. However, paet of the appeal or risk of reading a series isthat they do, by their very nature, fall into a formula type pattern. Having said that, this book and the rest ofthe series can be judged as decent summer reading and nothing more glamorous than that. Those of you offended by Barringtons' arrogance need look no further than Woods' post script to figure howthat came about.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted June 10, 2011

    Recommend!!!!!!!

    Haven't read much of his stuff recently - but he never dissapoints!!!

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    Posted June 25, 2011

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