“Do Tell” by Lindsay Lynch (Doubleday)
Edie O’Dare was there that night, the night that changed the lives of a dozen names in Hollywood – the night Sophie Melrose, newcomer to the FWM studios, was sexually assaulted by Freddy Clarke, famous for playing dashing heroes. And despite Edie wanting to be hardened and unattached, Sophie grabs her heart from the first interaction they have together.
Lindsay Lynch’s debut novel “Do Tell” goes far beyond that fateful night in 1939 and the lawsuit that follows – which is loosely based on the real-life case brought by Peggy Satterlee and Betty Hansen against actor Errol Flynn – and creates a noirish story from the underbelly of Hollywood.
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Edie’s acting contract is about to expire and Sophie’s lawsuit propels her to a new career as a gossip columnist. She suddenly finds herself in competition with Poppy, to whom she used to gossip from the FWM sets, premieres, and parties, as Edie has learned to blend in with a crowd. She has learned the trade, how to barter information and pull strings, when to come up with details and even full stories. But some stories may be beyond her control.
When the trial ends, the fallout is quickly eclipsed by a world war, casting a shadow over Hollywood to both ludicrous and devastating effect.
Despite the flowing dresses and all gilded, the glamor of old Hollywood is met with a distinctly noir feel that Edie brings as she delves into the proverbial shadows, using dirty tricks and poignant moments of empathy to get where she needs to go. She is a hard-boiled detective and a femme fatale rolled into one. And, like a good noir, the clues were there, but you’ll have to wait for Edie to piece it together to get the full story. For all her skills and underhandedness, there’s something big she’s been overlooking.
Spicy, incisive remarks sting directly at society. Edie is like a cool aunt who is wise beyond her age but can still party and have connections all over town. She sees through the farces of Hollywood, fake engagements and double standards, and finds a way to entertain herself and still be a part of it.
It gets horribly messy, but the ending is surprisingly sweet, a poetic justice that’s not at all what you’d expect from the opening chapters, turning a book about Hollywood gossip and patriarchy into one about love and how to find fulfillment .
If Turner Classic Movies is your best trivia subject, if you go to conventions dressed as a starlet from Hollywood’s golden age, “Do Tell” is a must-read.
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