The Torch Singer, Book One: An Overnight Sensation

The Torch Singer, Book One: An Overnight Sensation

by Robert Westbrook


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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781926499000
Publisher: Swan's Nest Canada
Publication date: 08/30/2014
Pages: 362
Product dimensions: 5.25(w) x 8.00(h) x 0.81(d)

About the Author

ROBERT WESTBROOK grew up in the world of which he writes. The child of Hollywood parents in the Golden Age he brings the period alive with insight, humor, and an insider's knowledge of show business. He is the author of two critically-acclaimed mystery series, including "Ancient Enemy", nominated for a Shamus Award as the Best P.I. Novel of 2002, and "Intimate Lies", a memoir detailing the relationship between his mother, Hollywood Columnist Sheilah Graham and the author F. Scott Fitzgerald which was published by HarperCollins in 1995. His first novel, "The Magic Garden of Stanley Sweetheart", was made into an MGM motion picture. Much of Robert Westbrook's backlist is in the process of being reissued.

"An Overnight Sensation" is the first book in his epic "Torch Singer" trilogy. The second book, "An Almost Perfect Ending" is being released in September 2014.

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The Torch Singer, Book One: An Overnight Sensation 5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 1 reviews.
Sue-Armstrong More than 1 year ago
"The Torch Singer" is Robert Westbrook's Hollywood noir thriller series, with Book One, "An Overnight Sensation" the first in a trilogy centred on the life and death of B-singer and actress Sonya Saint-Amant. Skilfully related from the outset, "An Overnight Sensation" opens with Saint-Amant's death on St Valentine's night 1956 in a Beverly Hills House, the discovery - by her 12-year-old son Jonno - of her body, lying naked on her bed in blood stained sheets; her lover, one-time Hollywood movie director Max McCormick is dead beside her shot in the head, and in the room, another lover, disgraced Republican Congressman Fred Landson is sitting on a chair toting a gun. After a short interchange with Jonno, Landson blows his own brains out and Jonno flees the scene, taking his mother's Cadillac, racing along the Pacific Coast Highway, almost reaching Santa Barbara before he is pulled over, a twelve year old in pajamas doing eighty miles an hour in the driving rain on the wrong side of the road. So far, so Hollywood Noir - a black and white movie all to itself, but that is only the prologue and we are only up to page 8. This is a very rich and rewarding book which tugs the reader along on a journey with a firm grip. Like captor to captive, the reader is enjoined and drawn into the story. By the end of the prologue Westbrook hints that Jonno's version of events might not be accurate -- and throughout the book nothing is ever going to be quite what it seems. And that is the way of it for this is a book has more plot twists than there are bends on Los Angeles County's Mulholland Highway and all the better for that. Robert Westbrook is a magnificent writer who, from his biography, knows this period of Hollywood from personal experience -- and one suspects that there is a lot of his childhood invested in Jonno. The book proceeds to intertwine Jonno's "Awful Hollywood Childhood" - written somewhat in the style of a soggy Hollywood memoir - with his mother Sonya's dogged attempt to rise to stardom and deliver him the opportunity to enjoy the Hollywood life. And what a journey it entails. Chapter One commences with yet another slaughter, this time by Nazis in the Krakow Opera House and an aftermath where the young (then) Sonja Wojtkiewicz sees her mother strung up and hanged by German soldiers from a lamppost in the street. Sonja flees Poland escaping with the help of a gypsy friend of her mother and partisans and washes up as many refugees did in London, but determined to get to America with musicals in New York - not films in Los Angeles - being her original aim. That involves sleeping her way to get a transit on a troop-ship, the Mauretania, which is where for scholarly students of writing Westbrook sets up the core of the subsequent plot. For the rest of us we can sit back end enjoy the journey and interactions, eloquently delivered, with glorious attention to detail and interspersed with some adventure and a little dry humor on the way. As is clear from her death at the outset Sonja/Sonya does make it to Hollywood as a star. But how she gets there and is subsequently repackaged as the sultry sex siren is the real story of "An Overnight Sensation". The book has a story thread which persists and won't leave go, tying knots for the reader to unravel as Sonya's life journey continues from the ingenue in Poland, through events on Mauretania and on through New York, all fully joined up to end in the deaths on Valentine's Night in the mansion in Beverly Hills. This is a clever book but not delivered in a smart-ass way. Westbook is a talented writer but he never shows off - and it is to this that the novel, and probably series - will owe its success. The reader wants to read because they are interested in the outcome, not a literary flourish - although Westbrook delivers a few delicious bon mots, lines and phrases on the way. The book completes with a sort-of ending - and also a beginning - as Westbrook teases the reader with the opening beat of Book Two - yet another cliffhanger - meaning I am aching to get hold of the follow-up as was no doubt the intention. As with all successful Hollywood franchises the art is to "keep them wanting more" and Westbrook seems to have it fully developed. I check my email daily in anticipation of receiving notice of the publication of Book Two, An Almost Perfect Ending. The Torch Singer series deserves all the success it will gain. Like crack-cocaine without the downside it already has me hooked.